More Hugs

Today is National Hug Day, and although these ubiquitous national days often make my eyes roll, this one is perfectly Mack appropriate. Mack hugged her people with rib-breaking enthusiasm, and there was no escape when her long arms gathered you in for a squeeze. So in honor of Mack on this National Hug Day, I want to encourage you all to offer up your best Big Mack hug to someone you love; and to celebrate the day and to honor my world champion hugger, I offer this repost of a blog I wrote back in November 2014…


If you were a person in Mack’s life, you knew that you were going to get hugs. Lots of hugs. From big bear hugs to hand hugs,* Mack hugged not only her own family members and her closest friends, but also her teachers, her coaches, and even some people she was just getting to know. She hugged you for pictures, she snuck up on you to hug you, and there was no escape from her strong grip if she decided you needed one of her famous Big Mack squeezes. Mack was not a big talker, and she was never verbally effusive with her emotions. Instead, she chose to love people by physically embracing them. Mack was full of love and delight for the people who were special to her. But Mack’s hugs were more about her wish to make those she hugged feel unconditionally loved and accepted than they were about showing her own affection.

Mack’s hugs became legendary, especially among all of her various adopted moms. At Mack’s memorial service, one of those special women (Sonya, a basketball mom and good friend) told me that she always looked forward to getting settled in at the basketball games, because she knew that even if she had just seen her the night before, Mack would run up the bleachers and give her a huge hug as if she hadn’t seen her in months. Another adopted mom (Ellen, who raised one of Mack’s oldest friends) wrote to me about how much she loved those hugs, referring to Mack as “the human Great Dane who thought she was a lap puppy.”

Mack was, indeed, a bit like a big happy puppy dog. So many photographs of her with friends reveal her inner marshmallow. She loved people hard, and she hugged them harder. Sometimes she hugged me so hard, she squeezed the air right out of my lungs. If I had a bad day, a bear hug from my Mack could make all of my worries melt away. Often, she would wrap her long arms around my shoulders, pull my head onto her chest, rest her chin on the top of my head, pat my back and say, “momma knows, momma knows.” She was being goofy and ridiculous, but she was also showing love and tenderness in her own unique way…with a Big Mack hug. God, I just loved those hugs. I cannot imagine how I will get through the rest of my life without them; and I would sell my soul to the devil for just one more.

 *Mack invented hand hugs sometime in high school. Basically, a hand hug is when two people press their palms together and wrap their own thumbs around the other person’s hand. It was just one of many silly rituals that Mack created to bond with teammates, be close with friends without being too gushy about it, and to give people around her an excuse to smile, laugh, and to be close to one another.

The hugging starting early with my Macko…

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Mack in pink is scooping up a couple of kindergarten friends here and Elyse (in the middle) was a life-long victim of Mack’s bear hugs.

Teammates were easy targets for Mack’s hugs. Mack offered her hugs in celebration of big wins and in consolation when the losses came hard…

Mack loved to wrap her arms around her “big” Sissy…

And she loved her Papa Bear…

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And here Mack is huggin’ on a football opponent…

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ha ha…just kidding (but what an awesome tackle, right?)

Mack was particularly fond of hugging those she called her “small, huggable people” and here she is with two of her favorites…

Kimber, Mack’s friend and special teammate (Mack and Kimber formed the battery of the SHS softball team), offered this lovely “hand hug” tribute to Mack on Mack’s birthday last year…

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Check out the previous Hugs blog for more photos of Mack squeezing the puddin’ out of the people she loved:

But when you’re done, go hug someone to pieces. That would be the best way to honor Mack on National Hug Day!

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