In the interpersonal horizon...

Do you remember the last time you hugged somebody or somebody hugged you?

I’ve met people whose answer was “I can’t remember.” 

Sadly they probably come from what I call a family with LDOA

- or limited display of affection. 

Several of these very same friends are now huggers

– especially since they’ve come to know me.

I come from a long lineage of huggers. In my mind no one

should be deprived of a hug, especially when it comes to sharing

a moment of joy or grief. 

In our family it’s something that we have done all our entire life,

and something that comes naturally.

Have you read the quote that says,  "We all need four hugs a day for survival,

eight for maintenance and 12 for growth?"

These numbers may be scientifically inaccurate, but the following story is true.

On Oct. 17, 1995 Kyrie and Brielle were born to Heidi and Paul Jackson,

at the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, Mass.

At just 28 weeks of age the twins were a full 12 weeks ahead of their due date.

The standard hospital procedure was to place any set of multiple births

in their separate incubators.

This was thought to reduce the risk of infection.

So the two tiny Jackson girls were placed in separate incubators in the hospital’s

new neonatal intensive care unit.

One of the twins began to gain weight quickly and tended to sleep calmly.

Kyrie's birth weight had been a mere two pounds, three ounces at birth.

But she quickly began thriving and gaining more weight. Brielle, her twin however;

had many complications especially with breathing and her little heart was also

having heart rate problems, causing her oxygen level in her blood to be low.

Further complicating matters was that Brielle was very slow to gain any weight.

On Nov. 12, less than a month later, Brielle the tiniest twin’s condition suddenly

turned critical.

Her half-inch thick, tiny arms and legs and lips began to turn bluish-grey in color

due to a drop in oxygen.

As she gasped for air, her heart rate became erratic and it kept spiking higher,

and higher.

All that her parents could do was watch and pray, terrified that their

little angel could die.

That morning Gayle Kasparian, their main Nurse, after exhausting all the

conventional medical procedures decided to try one that she had read about.

A procedure that was common in parts of Europe – but untried in the US.

After all she was quoted as saying, “Desperate moments called for

desperate measures.”

After getting all the necessary approvals and with the parent’s permission

the nurse placed the twins in the same incubator.

The nurse made sure that they were facing each other and laid them as close

as possible to one another.

The article said that no sooner had the nurse closed the incubator glass door,

when the tiniest of the two, Brielle snuggled closer into Kyrie.

And then a “miraculous” and incredible thing happened – tiny Brielle

began to calm down.

Within minutes, her blood-oxygen saturation readings increased,

and a more normal pinkish color began to come back throughout her tiny body.

As she calmed down enough to fall asleep, her twin Kyrie somehow embraced

her smaller sister.

Brielle's heart rate began to stabilize and her temperature rose back up

to normal and remained steady.

Several weeks later the Jackson twins were both physically fit to be able

to go home.

The article said that the parents continued to place them in the same bed,

and that their twins continued to thrive.

This photo of Kyrie hugging her little sister Brielle was titled "the Rescuing Hug,"

and the story appeared in both Reader’s Digest and Life magazine.

It made this tiny pair of twins famous (they are now two healthy fourteen year olds).

But more importantly their story of survival spurred a growing interest in the research of

medical co-bedding of all critically ill preemies.

This practice of developmental neo-natal care is used in NICUs around the world today.

It involves many aspects of the critically ill baby, from helping the babies feel more

secure and developing more normal sleep patterns, to decreasing stimulation

from noise, lights or procedures that come from repeated handling of them.

This research also uncovered many other benefits for these tiny infants;

including much shorter hospital stays, lower hospital expenses, fewer complications,

improved weight gain and enhanced bonding between the babies and the parents.

One other article I read on the benefits of ‘hugging” that was written

by researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill stated that “cuddling”

with our spouses was good for lowering our blood pressure,

helped strengthen our immune systems, helped to reduces stress,

tended to improve our sleep and was even a natural antidote for depression.

So just like the article about the Jackson twins, the word "miraculous," 

is associated with the benefits of a tiny hug.

We need to come to understand the “miraculous” difference we can make to

one another when we make it a point to come in contact with each other.

Our small gestures; our hugs, a warm handshake, a pat on the back, a smile,

a peck or a kiss is all we need to affirm one another. It’s not difficult to learn

- we’re all born with this amazing capability!

Look at tiny Brielle and her twin sister Kyrie, they knew this long before they

were even conscious of it.

I loved this story… tiny Kyrie's hug not only embraced Brielle but really touched me.

It helped me remember that we all have an innate responsibility to our loved ones

- one another – our colleagues – and our neighbors here and around the world.

That by embracing them we can transform a LIFE.

As we look around we all need to try to keep from getting all caught up

in the daily struggles and challenges. Don’t forget what LIFE is really all about.

Be ever mindful of the fact that our earthy destiny is about our LIVING,

and LOVING in the interpersonal horizon of SHARING and RELATIONSHIPS.

Go HUG as many people as you can this weekend!

Make it a great dia!

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