As I approach Cindy’s side of the bed to get her up I give her a little warning.
“Time to get up, buttercup,” followed by “Come give me a hug, love bug.”
Cindy is on her side facing my side of the bed with her kneels curled up; this is usually her position. I remove the covers and swing her to the side of the bed, knees still curled, which means I only have to tip her the right way to get them planted on the ground. I put my own foot in front of hers to prevent them from slipping forward, then pull her up to me.
Cindy arms are locked in front of her, as stiff as her curled knees were before I pulled her up. I cheerfully chastise her with: “Get those arms around me where they belong!” I pry her arms open to get them around me, which sometimes proves to be quite a challenge. Even after they are in the hug position they are stiff and locked, pressing against me as if I am dealing with rigor mortis.
This is the first of three types of hugs I will have with Cindy throughout the day. Hugs are good for our health, but even if they were not this is now the time in our lives together to get in the most hugs possible. Still, the research and TED talks touting eight hugs a day might not include the “rigor mortis” hug in their health prescriptions.
As we hug I spend some time rubbing her back, caressing her in our embrace and whispering how beautiful or special she is. Her “rigor mortis” hug starts to soften and gets replaced by one of the other two types of hugs. This morning it’s the limp hug that follows next.
I know we are not really connected with the rigor mortis hug, but I am never sure what is going through Cindy’s head during the limp hug. Her body’s rigid defense against her uncertainty and confusion in an environment she barely senses has relaxed, but how much has perception moved in? The limp hug happens at least once every day but I still don’t know the answer to this question.
The third type of hug is the passionate hug, at least to the extent that Cindy can express passion. Her arms are tight around me but not stiff. Instead, her arms squeeze me tight with intention, as if hugging me is the most precious thing in the world to her which, of course, I hope it is. When this happens I know what we are doing is good for both our health and our souls.
Lap time with the cats is the reason I give for still guiding Cindy up and down the stairs. Some days they are right there by the couch waiting to jump into Cindy’s lap as soon as I plop her down. Other times they may have to wake from their slumber elsewhere first, but invariably they end up on Cindy’s lap. This too, like the hugs, I imagine must be good for the health and the soul of all involved, including the observer.