After living through an experimental cancer treatment my sister Barb was left unable to work. When she was offered the opportunity to do a mission trip in India if she could come up with $3,000 - she was left thinking there was no way she could go. No way to raise the funds. She asked me to brainstorm with her as to ways she could raise money. "The only thing I can do is hug," she told me - and thus her adventure began.
I designed a "Hugs Around the World" card for her which she used to solicit donations. For any amount donated, she promised to hug a person in India. On the back of the cards the donor could write their name, below which it said “...cares about you.” The cards would be given to the people hugged, offering love and care a world away.
After raising the money she needed, she was told that culturally the people in India are not huggers, and that it wasn't a good idea to go through with it
. But, my sister Barb was not one to follow cultural norms here or there. Having faced death and won, she was a person that lived true to her spirit. She wasn’t afraid to stand out and do something others might feel uncomfortable doing. She knew how to let her love shine.
I have heart-warming pictures of her there, with her arms around undesirables - women she found along the way that no one would talk to. She hugged men and women and children and shared love around the world.
A few years ago her cancer returned with a vengeance and she knew her time here was limited. She asked that I design a new card for her - a funeral card. It looked like the original but in a new color. This time on the back it had hersignature, with the words "cares about you"... and we were asked to carry her love on by sharing hugs in her memory.
Asked to prepare a eulogy for her memorial service, I wasn't sure exactly what to say, but sat down and wrote from my heart. Out loud, I asked God to let me know if I was saying the right things, then trusted that Iâ€ˆwould know.
Shortly after finishing, I left my house to pick up my car from the garage. When I walked in - in a hurry to rush in and out - I noticed a young boy standing in the lobby. His hair was very thin, and I wondered if he was okay - thinking he may have cancer.â€ˆIt was an unusual sight, and gave me pause.
It was a just 2-second glance - and I was on my way to the counter when he looked up at me, raised his arms, and said --"Hug?..."
(The picture on the right shows the card that Gretchen, the author of this story, designed for her sister's funeral. It is set inside the trunk of a giant redwood tree where Barb's ashes are scattered)
This story has been printed here with permission.