My oldest son and his paternal grandmother have a little game they play whenever they say “goodbye” to each other. “I love you more.” “No, I love you more.” “I love you more.” “I love you more.” And on and on they go. And what I love is that I have raised a son who is so comfortable in voicing his affection.
Twenty-four years ago this month my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Because of the abruptness, I did not know when I had last told him that I loved him. I was sure I had. But when? And was he listening? And had I said it enough? And did I hug him?
Now I make it a point to tell people in my life that I love them. I tell them seriously. I tell them casually, like at the end of a phone call. I tell them with abbreviations at the end of a text message or email. I tell them with secret codes that we made up together. I tell them in greeting cards. I tell them in care packages sent to college. I tell them out loud with those three little-yet-huge words: “I love you.” I tell them with slang: “Luv ya.” I tell them with questions: “You know I love you, don’t you?” I tell them with qualifiers: “I know I don’t tell you often enough…” When my boys were little I told them with song: “I love you. A bushel and a peck.” I want them to know. If there is nothing else sure in this world, they can be sure that I love them.
So hug your children, kiss your significant other, call your parents and siblings and grandparents and more. Whisper in their ears. Say it loud and say it proud. Tell them over the phone or via webcam. Write a letter or send an email. Make a YouTube declaration. Say it with sign language. Tweet it or write it on their Facebook wall. Tell them that you love them! Tell them today, even if you’re mad that they didn’t take out the trash or that they put a dent in the car or that they left the toilet seat up. Let them know that your love is unconditional. And love them unconditionally.
Don’t assume that they already know and it doesn’t need to be said. Don’t wait until tomorrow because you never know what will happen today. Don’t wait for them to say it first.
“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” Elbert Hubbard
Note: If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you may recognize much of this – it is adapted from a post last year. Apologies for repeating myself but, as I lit a candle to remember my dad this week, I thought it was worth saying again:)