Today I hugged Anthony the Cashier. I’m at the grocery store, and I spy Anthony. He doesn’t look so happy. I found out last week that two of his closest friends died in the same weekend–unexpectedly. Ever since I heard that news, I’ve been making up excuses to go to the grocery store in case Anthony is working.
I wouldn’t know what to say or do, but I just wanted to stand in his line with my groceries and be there.
So I’m in his line today. I say something about how sorry I am for his loss. I tell him how much joy he always brings everybody and how I wish I could help him feel better. He thanks me, compliments my necklace, and, in true Anthony form, celebrates with my children about the back-to-school cookies we are obviously going to make today. He makes us feel so good, and he’s the one suffering.
Just as I start to walk out the door, he comes around in front of me and opens his arms wide for a hug. He’s grieving. His eyes have been crying for days.
I hug him right there in front of everybody. It’s a long, real hug. And as I’m hugging him, I’m sending him all the mother love, all the God love, all the kind of love I can imagine exists in the world, right into his body.
And, I’m not kidding (and yes this confirms my nerd status), but I think of Arwen and Frodo. The line in the Lord of the Rings movie that always gets me in tears is when Arwen holds Frodo when he’s just about to die and says: “No, Frodo, no! Don’t give in. Not now.” And then she prays: “What grace is given me let it pass to him…let him be spared….save him.”
I know I’m not Arwen, and Anthony isn’t Frodo, but the concept that I could pass on to somebody “what grace is given me,” made that hug so important today. Spare this person. Save them. Anthony’s not literally dying, but emotionally he is.
Why aren’t I hugging everybody with the urgency of Arwen? There’s more pain in this world than could fill a million blog pages. I want to reach out my arms and embrace as many people as I can. Who cares if it’s in the grocery store with somebody I don’t really know? Living with flair means I hug real and long. I hug to pray that whatever love I know can pass into that soul before me.