I am not the type of guy who likes hugs. Either giving or getting!
I’m “OK” with hand shakes or bows. Even the across the room wave, nod, or the old “Tip of the Hat” is fine
especially if you have not seen someone for a really long time!
However, what do you do with an eight year old little girl who comes running up to you, arms open, big
smile on her face and large happy eyes? What do you do with a little girl who expects to be lifted up into the
air, into a warm reassuring hug that says ever thing is going to be alright?
How can you hug someone when you know is never going to be alright again?
How can you hug a child with Herpes Zoster and not cause excruciating pain to run through her petite body?
How can you protect her delicate body and crush her fragile heart in the process?
This is how!
I stopped her in her tracks by raising my hand like the Police and I said: “One,
Two, Three, RED LIGHT!”
Then, while she stands there, frozen in place, with me watching to see if she
moves so much as an eyelid. I walk over to her and ask her:
“Is it OK for me to hug you today?”
“Will I give you much pain if I hug you?”
“Where are the sores so I do not rub into them?”
All the time the joy fades from her eyes, her hands come slowly down to her
sides and her face turns downward to the floor.
With the softest of whispers that can only be uttered by the soul of an infected
child she exhales the words:
:“I’m Ok! Mom says today “I’m Huggable!”
I somehow find myself moving like lightning back across the room and the
words explode from my mouth: “One, Two, Three, GREEN LIGHT!”
Her face comes up and beams with that almost lost smile, she's off, running
across the floor, into the air, then into my arms.
Thoughts spin through my mind:
Thank God she can be hugged today!
Thank God the opportunistic disease of Herpes Zoster is beginning to heal!
Thank God for the good days!
Thank God for reassuring Hugs!
Her name was Masela and she was in second grade. Her mom brought her to be tested for HIV at a
Volunteering, Counseling and Testing Center where I was assisting as a volunteer counselor. Masela had
more than two clinical signs of HIV and her health was getting worse. Her mom needed to know of her little
girl’s HIV status. The mom herself, was convinced she was positive. However, it was not known if Masela’s
illnesses were due to a poor immune system as a result of the HIV Virus. Both mother and daughter
underwent counseling and were tested for HIV because both were found positive (+)!
It was a very hard time for Masela and her mom. Two months before coming to the VCT Center her dad had
died after a long struggle with full blown AIDS. Masela shared with me how she helped with the cooking,
cleaning, carrying water and washing clothes. She told me that her dad would make her leave the house early
to be at school on time and how he would listen to her read at night when she got home.
Masela spoke of how “Mom still cried each night since Dad" was gone and asked me to give “Mom some
medicine to make mom’s pain go away. This way mom could sleep at night and be better for work in the
Masela shared her favorite things from school to friends with me. She loves school and she wants to be a
nurse so that she can take good care of her mom. This way "Mom would stay a long time and not have to go
so fast like Dad did!”
All that could have been done for Masela and her mom were done for them. Their last years with us were
from place to place but still filled with as much laughter as possibly could be.
I often pray that she is once again getting her needed Hugs from her dad.
I am not the type of guy who likes hugs but sometimes I do miss a little girl called Masela, who