“Are you hugging?” I’ve received this question from several friends as they approach with arms spread open, signally that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine and are definitely hugging again. The first time it happened, I found myself in tears. It was overwhelming to make contact after so much physical distancing in the past year.

Yet making contact can also be complicated. Within that physical distance, some conflicts that have been underneath the surface of relationships began to fester anew. Some new conflicts emerged as families and friends tried to navigate what risks they understood to be real and how they chose to deal with them. Some families and friends distanced further apart because of conflicts. The question, ‘are you hugging?’ touches on the nerve ends of troubled relationships.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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