Hugs of Joy, Hugs of Sorrow

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops multiples of her Havanese dog looking for a woodchuck while Botie looks for trouble in every corner of the world: hurricanes, data hackers, cancer, earthquakes....It used to be that when you heard the words, “Guess what,” you’d know right away someone was pregnant. Just those two words could send you gushing with emotion, jumping up and down, and hugging for joy.

This morning, a friend greeted me with two other words, also heavy with connotation. “Bad news,” she said. And even though it came from out of the blue, and there’s been little other than “bad news” all over the world these days, I knew immediately: it was cancer. Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. And all we could do was listen to each other’s wailings, and try to hold one another up. And hug.

We hug in happiness and we hug in sorrow. It takes only two words to understand which kind of hugging you’ll be doing. And after a long while of hanging onto people because you’re miserable and need comfort, it sure would feel good to embrace them in joy. So I looked high and low for something uplifting to report on this week. North, south, east or west there was nothing but trouble. Hurricane Irma’s devastation, storm surge, threats of intercontinental ballistic missiles, Mexico’s strongest earthquake in 85 years, hackers making huge data breaches, more cancer, friends’ fathers’ failing health…. My blog, the weekly hug I send my readers, seemed doomed to be another depressing pity party.

It’s embarrassing and difficult to be searching for joyfulness with this much suffering going on all over. So I’m opting out of joy this week. I’m taking time off to howl hysterically in my own private hissy fit. But I’ll leave you with this photo-shopped scene of my best friend. Here, Suki’s hoping she’ll catch up with the woodchuck that lives under our patio. Intent on nabbing the chuck, she doesn’t always hear the two words that make her smile for the camera, “Cookie, Suki.” This is the closest I can come to sending you a happy hug at the moment.


How was your week? How are your relatives that live in Texas and Florida and all the places that got hit by hurricanes? What was the most memorable hug you ever had?



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5 thoughts on “Hugs of Joy, Hugs of Sorrow

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I get it, Robin. I can hug you in sorrow and in joy. It’s hard watching the news, so (one of the benefits of deafness), I don’t watch TV and limit my time taking in the flood of bad news. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to know about or help people dealing with disasters. I do. But right here in my world, my ship sinks under the natural disaster of my mother-in-law’s longevity. I needed Joy, but how to find it?

    An email from a local stranger saying she heard I had fields of milkweed and would like to look and maybe release her Monarch butterflies here. She came to inspect the land and showed me the basics of where to find the caterpillars. It was late in the season, but my treasure hunt yielded 16 tiny caterpillars over the next few days. One died, but in nature 95-99% die. I have 15 in pupae stage now and found a Black Swallowtail caterpillar along the way who is happily munching and growing fat on young dill plants I found in my garden. Last week, we released my Monarch mentor’s 5 butterflies and watched them fly. I give them what they need and watch and learn. They fill my heart with Joy which is what I needed. After they grow up and fly away in a week or so, I wonder what I’ll do.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    A hug is a hug, Robin, connecting people to each other. Good to share the sorrows as well as the joy.

    Thank you!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Lynne. Neat how hugs are the answer to both. I guess the physical connection can be so important in surviving and thriving in this life. Big hug to you.

  3. Lucy Bergstrom

    Thank you, dear Robin, for your weekly hugs. Yes, bad things do happen. They sure do. But it’s not like the universe is out to get you, these random hits of bad news and hurricanes aren’t ordered by the mafia. They just happen, like good news also just happens. Striving helps, yes, but it’s no guarantee. Being talented, good looking, outgoing, whatever, that helps, but it’s no guarantee. In the good-looking category, we all know people who’ve gotten into big trouble because they looked too good for their own good!
    I believe in God, partly because it’s very comforting to feel that there’s a force for good that wishes us well. God isn’t in control of hurricanes or cancer, strokes, leukemia. But he/she is always there with words of comfort.
    You have a little bit of heavenly comfort in the form of unstoppable Suki. Hope she nabs the chuck!
    Love, Lucy

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I love that you can find such comfort in God, Lucy. It seems I stopped praying to God at some point. Now I pray to Marika. Kind of. It’s comforting to me to talk to her, to imagine her hearing me, to think of my living on in this world and finding joy for her – because she loved life and living and partying – and I’m still here, able to do all that but not able to do it without her strong spirit somewhere close inspiring me. I do not blame God for hurricanes and bad news. I simply feel a closer connection to the memory or spirit of my daughter. And that keeps me in check, makes me more compassionate and more aware of the world and all its creatures, much more so than ever before in my life. And it sure helps to have my sweet inherited dog by my side.


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