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What’s It Like to Hug Again?

New York Times - Wed Apr 7 23:07

Opinion|What’s It Like to Hug Again?


Share your videos of your first physical contact with a loved one or friend post-vaccination.

Lisa Tarchak

Ms. Tarchak is a staff editor.

Credit...Al Bello/Getty Images

I ache for my mom, for her deep, lingering hug, the whiff of her perfume, the inevitable smear of her lipstick across my cheek. I long to see her entangled with my daughters in an intricately arranged, happy pile, all three of them somehow tucked together comfortably in a twin bed.

I miss shaking hands with people when introduced. Sitting down to a meal with people I love, or even grabbing a coffee with someone I’m just getting to know. And I miss hugging my friends when I rarely see them, still outside and six feet apart.

Those six feet apart have become a moat around me — a necessary separation, I know, but it might as well be a mile at this point. I’m a hugger. For the past year I’ve felt stranded, both physically and emotionally separate.

What are the costs of physical deprivation on us? As we’ve navigated this virus, normal physical contact has been transformed into a precursor to sickness and death, not only a threat to ourselves but also a possible death sentence for ones we love. Maybe our psyches will heal — with vaccinations becoming more widespread, and spring in the air, the end is starting to feel nearer. But is it really? As cases increase in the United States and around the world, the virus still hovers above us, along with the fear.

I also wonder how this will change me, and when “normal” returns, if I will still be a hugger. Will physical contact be the same? Will we always be weighing the risks, and because of that will those hugs and kisses have even more meaning because they will always be reminders of our own mortality?

I’m still one shot and many miles away from my family, and most likely months away from seeing my mom. I cry as I write this. But as the vaccination rollout continues, for many people reunions and returns to physical touch are becoming a reality again.

We’re asking readers to share these (safe) moments of physical contact with us — a first grandparent cuddle, a special family meal, a kiss, a handshake, that hug you’ve yearned for.

You can upload your video from your computer or phone in the form below. Let us know who is in the video, the circumstances of the reunion, how long they’ve been unable to touch, or how long you’ve waited for this moment.