I just realized that it’s been almost a year since I hugged anyone besides Shawn.

And boy, do I know how lucky I am to live with a hugger. And I am so grateful!

I’ve stayed healthy and happy over this past year, with a few dips of bummed-out-ness here and there. Those dips correlate with how much I miss my friends, and how I do miss hugging them, very much.

The last people I hugged were Davy’s brother and sister-in-law, in the driveway of their winter place in Florida as the trio shoved off for home from the cancelled second half of our six week tour. I even wrote in my journal that it was ‘going to be weird to not be gigging for a few weeks.’ Now, it looks like all touring is off the table until 2022. And who knew that hugging would be off the table for this long, too?

I remember distinctly the first time I thought that I shouldn’t hug someone. It was at our Pensacola show on that ill-fated tour. A new HPAT fan was regaling me at the merch table, buying a T-shirt and some CDs, very excited to meet me. The news had grown more worrisome in those first days of March 2020, but emergency had not yet been declared. This new and excited fan really wanted a hug, and I gave her one, and I remember feeling so sad at the possibility that this simple expression of affection and care could endanger someone’s well-being.

(Of course, in that moment we were all ignorant to the fact that the several hundred of us who were gathered at the venue that night may have already been endangering each other’s health! It makes me shudder to think of it now!)

The human spirit is strong and innovative. I know someone who hugged her aging dad through a clear plastic sheet while visiting him at the nursing home.

This past year has been so difficult, and we’re all finding ways to cope. It’s also brought into full relief the fact that we all have a finite number of encounters, and hugs, with the people we love. Cherish every single one.