She was this confident, popular girl in camp, always surrounded by friends. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. I knew a little about her background from what one of the other leaders had shared. And my heart went out to her, even though she looked so confident and composed.

We didn’t have that deep a conversation, we just chatted a little bit when we walked to the bathroom together. It was a very casual conversation about how she was doing, how her life was. But the hurt was there, even if she discussed it without emotion.

But the day after, when it was after midnight and I was dying for some sleep, she came to me. We were sitting outside with a group of teens under a sort of porch, seeking shelter from the drizzling rain. I’d put some blankets around me to stay warm.

She sat down next to me and without saying anything, she snuggled close to me under the blankets. I put my arm around her and she just sat there for more than an hour, her head on my shoulder.

We didn’t say much, I just hugged her. How she missed her mom, this seemingly confident, popular girl. She just wanted to be held, to feel loved. All she needed was a hug.

We didn’t talk much in the days after either. She sat next to me during dinner once and we joked around a bit on the last night. But when she left camp, I got the biggest hug ever from her, surprising her friends and her dad.

She didn’t need my words, she didn’t need my advice, she didn’t need my theology. She just needed me to hug her and hold her and for a few minutes, be the mom to her that she misses so terribly.