Several years ago, I met this man that changed the way I looked at the world. It was this man that taught me the most important thing about love. He taught me that you should practice love as much as possible. It is in doing so that you let others know they are important to you; and that the moments you have with them are important to you as well. Love is nothing to be ashamed of, he taught me. Nor is it something you should be embarrassed of. He felt as though love should be worn on your sleeve. What he taught me, I shall never forget.
But since it is not the way our society views love, I need to explain it to you so that you understand.
This man taught me that that the words 'I Love You' can be used for anything, and should be used as often as possible, so that the people around you understand how much you appreciate them. He said that 'I Love You' doesn't have to mean, "I love you and now you can never be with anyone else ever, and are stuck with me for the rest of my life, and have to look at me everyday, and put up with all my bull shit, and marry me, and cook my dinner, and have my children, and clean my house, and wash my laundry, and take care of me when I'm old."
In fact, he thought that this was the silliest thing that "I love you" should mean.
Then he turned to me and he said, "I love you for driving me home. I love you for spending hours with me talking about Buddha. I love you for watching EARTH with me. I love you for laughing with me. I love you for having coffee with me. I love you for waking up in my arms.
I love you because you have chocolate on the side of your mouth. I love you because I know what color underwear you have on. And I really really love you because we went to Waffle House and had such a wonderful time eating hashbrowns and talking about nonsense."
This was completely new to me. My parents divorced when I was young, and neither were lovey-dovey affectionate couples with their new spouses. Don’t get me wrong. I knew my parents loved me, but they did nothing to teach me about displaying love. And they surely didn't teach me anything about being in a normal relationship.
I read once that we use 'I Love You' much too often in our society. We throw it away as if it's not important. We say, "Yeah, okay, I love you, bye!" each time we get off the phone, and thus 'I love you' has now become linked with good-byes. Instead of what 'I love you' should really mean, which is something to the effect of, "I cherish you, and I really appreciate having you in my life."
The article concluded that we shouldn't throw away our 'I love yous’ at the end of phone calls - we should find deep and meaningful moments to tell the people we love that we truly sincerely do love them.
Hmmm. I tucked that article away in my mind to think about as time went on.
And then I lost one of the people in my life that I had loved the most. We had split up countless times (always from me being the immature-girl-trying-to-pretend-to-be-a-woman that I was at the time), and one day we had gone to this restaurant (whose name fails me at the moment) to discuss his most recent need to forgive me AGAIN. On this particular day, he listened to me tell him how utterly wrong HE was and how I was so completely right in my latest argument; I told him what I needed to him to do to make ME better. And when I thought I had done all I could, he took me back to my car.
I got out of my car, and he yelled, "HEY!" to get my attention. But instead of stopping to listen, I poked my head back into his car, and I said, “I hate you for not understanding.”
I HATE YOU.
These were the last words I ever spoke to him face to face.
This to I man I had shared so many memories with. I didn't find a meaningful moment to look into his eyes and tell him how much I loved him. I didn't say, “I’m sorry.” The simplest statement. The one that I needed to say - and I was too stubborn. I said, “I hate you." He said okay, nodded and I watched him drive away.
And a moment didn't pass…my pride did.
This is what I didn't say:
I love you because we both love Crab Cakes.
I love that I had someone to eat lunch with.
I love that you understand how badly I wanted to chase life.
I love that you understand what I'm saying even when I stumble over my words and struggle to get my point across.
I love you because you pick me up when I was down - and never expected anything in return.
I love that you call me in the middle of the night when you're upset and I am the one voice in the world that you need to hear.
I love that in the middle of a crowded restaurant you let me climb into the booth with you and put my arms around you.
I love you because you always put your arms around me when I needed it.
I love you because you write me letters everyday and you mail them all to me.
I love you because you think it's cute when I'm clumsy.
I love you because you weren't frustrated with the waitress when she forgot about us.
I love you because when I’m cold you always let me wear you sweater from Ireland.
I resolved that I shall never make that mistake again.
This has proven more challenging than I imagined. It has forced me to be creative and sneaky with my 'I love yous.
To my casual friends I usually find a moment when we are giggly and say, "Oh that's so funny, I love you so much because you are just so fun to be around!"
When getting gifts I tend to say, "Oh thank you so much! I love you for thinking of me! That's really so sweet of you, it means so much to me!"
Guy friends are a bit easier because I can always just say, "Oh honey, I love you because your such a fing goofball." And then they know I love them, but they aren't scared off thinking I want to have their babies.
My few friends that I am very close with and my family are use to my sentimental ramblings. They know I love them and they know why. Usually it's something like, "Thank you. I love you so much for going through this with me. I really am so lucky I have you." Sometimes its, "I love you so much, I absolutely realize that you are the only one that puts up with my craziness."
I rather enjoy the ones that go, "Oh God! I love you soooo much because you know me so well!!!"
Our conversations usually end with, "Okay well I love you very much. Thank you for taking this time to let me vent - it means a lot to me." Then I can rest easy knowing that if I never see them again, they know how much they meant to me. Or that I'm just a sappy schmuck that goes all gooey when anyone pays the littlest bit of attention to me.
I don't really care either way what they think. It's only important to me that they know, that those moments have had a profound impact on me. Because I know how life feels without those moments.
I know how life feels with out someone to go to lunch with.
Without someone to listen to my bullshit.
Without someone who thinks it's funny when I get chocolate on my face.
Without someone who puts their arms around me.
Without someone who makes me laugh or does ridiculous goofball things.
Without someone who buys me gifts or knows me so well.
Without someone to watch TV with, go to the movies with or who thinks its endearing when I break things or trip.
Without someone who wants to hear my voice and is so excited to tell me things.
Without someone that calls to make sure I'm ok.
Without some to go shoe shopping with because that REALLY just isn't as much fun all alone.
I know how that feels - and I don't want to ever feel that way about anyone in my life again.
Whatever you do, and whoever you are - don’t miss the opportunities to tell the ones you love, that, well, you do. They may not be there when you decide you’re finally ready to let your guard down.