Why I Love You
I was talking to a new friend recently. We were having one of those conversations where you end up both laughing and crying because you are sharing so many things about your lives. You know those kinds of girlfriend conversations I am talking about, right? Anyway, I felt so incredibly close to her, like I was wrapped in a warm, well loved sweater. We really didn’t know each other that long, but, it felt as if we had known each other forever. We had so many similarities as adults and a chillingly similar childhood, not exactly in experiences but in how we ended up interpreting the world around us. In my heady excitement at the end of the conversation, I said, “Bye, I love you.” And then I “heard” the awkward silence at the other end. I did not get the “I love you” return. But you see that’s ok; I’m use to that. It happens a lot. Most of the time I don’t even realize I have said “I love you,” until the weight of the silence comes. The words, “I love you,” just slip out. It is no longer a decision on my part to say it. There is this kind of knee jerk reaction to just say it at certain moments in my life and to certain people. I use to have control over this, but I really don’t anymore.
The reason it comes so easily is because of the one time I wish I said those words and missed the opportunity. About 12 years ago I was getting into bed, and I turned on the TV. As the TV powered on, I rolled to the other side of the bed and poised my hand to pick up the phone. I was facing away from the TV and I could hear that “Sex in the City” was starting, and since I am easily distracted I found myself lifting the receiver and then placing it back down. It was a decision I wish I could go back and change. You see, I was just about to call my sister, Joanie, but thought I’ll watch the show and maybe call her after. It took only a moment for me to convince myself that since she lives in California, with the time difference, it wouldn’t be too late to call after the episode. But one episode turned into two, or maybe it was 4, and I decided I would just call her in the morning.
The next morning I was busy with the kids and my house, and my other sister called me. As the words she spoke rushed out of her mouth, they seemed to create a wind that came through the phone and knocked me down like a feather. I collapsed like a rag doll onto my stairs saying I didn’t believe her. I didn’t want to believe her. She had just told me, that our beautiful sister died last night; she died just hours after I placed that phone back in the cradle. I was devastated that she was gone, and sick from the thought that I could have spoken to her one last time.
When I talk about this, I can still feel the curve of that princess phone in my hand as I gently placed it back into the cradle. I use to relive that moment sometimes, trying to figure out how to spin the world back and change that decision so that I did get the chance to say, “Bye, I love you,” in an alternate universe. I carried around my sadness over this for many years.
When I came back from the California after the funeral I made the conscious effort to say “I love you” as often as I could, to as many people as I could in my life. In the beginning, it felt kind of weird to say it as often as I did, but then it became rather easy to do. I would forget to say I love you sometimes, and I would remind myself of how fragile life was and how I never wanted to miss an opportunity like that again. I guess over so many years of doing it, it comes out naturally now. I just say it and don’t even realize I have said it.
I think people think I am weird sometimes. Now, I don’t do it inappropriately. I have never told any of my bosses I love them, or the guy who comes every year to clean my dryer vents. Yes, they are in my life and I see them at regular intervals, but I only say it when there is, what seems to be, a necessity for my heart to speak. It seems to come around especially when I have had one of those conversation where I have given and received so much support and care and dare I say, love. Maybe, you have even talked to me on the phone and I said, “Bye. I love you,” And maybe even you have thought I was weird. That’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t bother me. Truth be told, I don’t really know when and if I will speak to you again. And chances are, if we have had a few of those amazing conversations, I really do love you. You have gotten into my heart somehow, because I just don’t share my life with anyone. If I have shared it with you, then it’s simple. I love you. So don’t worry about not doing the “I love you” return. I’m cool with that. I just hope you don’t get too freaked out. Oh, and you don’t have to fill up the silence either. The silence gives me a beautiful moment to also send you a big hug through the phone.
Bye, I love you.