Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Hugs of Safe Harbour

My Mum told me something, yesterday, that had me with tears in my eyes, while talking to her on the phone, sitting in the light of a golden Sunset, in the middle of Wheatley – the village I moved to a few months ago.

One of my childhood friends, Mandy, died last weekend, at the far-too-young age of 41-years old.

She’d had a lot of health issues over the years, along the same lines as my oldest brother, Paul: chronic kidney disease, resulting in the need for dialysis, then a kidney transplant… and there are so many issues that result from this… it really is like the medical equivalent of spinning plates.

The thing is, Mandy had been through some tough times and had been very ill, but – doing quite well, of late, it seems – out of the blue, she had some internal bleeding and when surgeons operated on her, her aorta ruptured, and there was effectively nothing they could do to save her. (I’m not sure of the exact details, but my Mother told me this.)

I hadn’t spoken more than a few words to Mandy for more than 20 years, I guess, but she was such an important part of my childhood. She was three years older than me, and our families were so close, she was like a sister to me… back then.

It was a real shock to hear the news. It still seems impossible. I can only hope that (and I do feel that), after all her suffering, she’s in a better place… and her family will be reunited with her, at the right time.

The thing that really got me, yesterday – the day of her funeral – was my Mum telling me that she’d been across to see Mandy’s family a few days ago. She gave her mother and sister a hug.

Mandy’s father… who was always a reserved kind of guy and not the most tactile of people… gave my Mum a hug.

This was a surprise.

She told me on the phone that he’d ‘never been the hugging type’, and he said to her that, before last weekend, he hadn’t even hugged his own sister – in his whole life - but all that had changed, through their shared ordeal.

He said that he didn’t realise what he’d missed out on, until then.

Hugs are such a beautiful gift, in times of joy, sadness and overwhelming grief.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, and you wished you could hug them…

… and if you can’t hug them, pick up the phone and tell them you love them.

RIP Mandy – Corby Hill’s Steffi Graff, from my early memories.


  1. Sadness at the Loss of someone still so young..My Heart goes out to You Les and all of her Family and Friends.All the Best All ways Linda Gayle Your Facebook and Twitter Buddy

  2. So sorry, my darling, about your friend. Sending big hugs to you.


  3. Your MUM has it right my friend, a hug is one of the most important things in life, it means so much,so if you are reading this grab your partner, the children, or even the dog, and give them a big hug, you will feel better and they certainly will?
    All the best my friend.


  4. You are so right. It also goes to show that you must treasure every minute you have with your friends and family. I love hugs - as you know, Les.
    May Mandy rest in peace xxx

  5. When I was growing up, no one in my family every said "I love you" and no one except my Dad ever hugged. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I made up my mind to say "I love you" whenever I spoke to my parents.I could tell they were uncomfortable at first, but they- and my sisters- started saying it too. It felt so good to hear it.
    As for hugging, I did that too. The last time I saw my mother, I hugged he goodbye and told her I loved her. Then- just as I started to walk away, something told me to go back and hug her again, which I did. It was the last time I saw her.
    Most people don't realize the power of that communication. I am so grateful I do. Thanks, Les, for this reminder.

  6. So Sad.
    This poem has helped a lot of people and it's by Henry Scott Holland. Here's a little exert.

    Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away to the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    That, we still are.

  7. I started hugging my mum and dad a few years ago after a conversation with a good friend, at first they were hesitant and it was very awkward, we'd never been a huggy family, anyway, it was the best advice ever, my mum stopped nagging me so much and my dad visibly relaxed in my company. Hugging is great, just do it, someone has to be the first and they might not like it to start with but that warm huggy love is the best.

  8. Beautifully written. I am a very lucky girl to have grown up Italian American, we yell, love and hug all the time!

  9. A sad story yet the warmth of a shared hug helps the healing of so much in life. I was 21 before my father and I ever hugged. My parents had just split up, he was a broken man and though not being much comfortable with hugs myself then, and certainly not my dad, that day, we crossed a bridge. I stepped forwards and heart felt hugged him for a very long time. We never looked back. It opened new horizons for each of us, we learned to share hugs with open hearts, with each other and many others. I love hugs, they are a great gift to share.

  10. ...Beautiful and true. Death is nothing at all. Thank you for this. xx