“I Love You, Also!”
I love words. I love the challenge of arranging and rearranging them until they finally come together as they should. But beyond my fondness for them is respect for the power they wield. Words can cut and cut deeply. You and I know that. But well chosen words, they have the power to touch us, to bring wholeness, to affirm life. Words like “I love you.” A simple phrase, perhaps, but one I believe can never be spoken or heard too many times.
I am fortunate to belong to a family that says “I love you” a lot. The “I love you’s” always flowed freely and for that I am most grateful. Many things in life I have questioned, but never the love of my family. That I always knew. That I have never doubted.
But there came a time in my life when I could no longer hear those words from someone I longed to hear them from more than anyone else. Toward the end of my mother’s life, Alzheimer’s had taken its toll. Mom seldom, if ever, communicated verbally. She would still reach for my hand now and then. Maybe smile when she saw me. One time, she even clapped her hands. But what I wanted, what I longed for, was to hear once again the words she could no longer say: “I love you.”
I can’t recall the last time I actually heard my mother say those words to me. There was a last “I love you” from her to be sure. I just had no way of knowing it at the time. But one day, not too long after she died, there came another. I was in my mother’s bedroom, looking through some of her things when I came across a card I had once given her, one long since sent and long since forgotten. Opening the card, I saw that my mother had written on it some words of her own. There, next to my “I love you very much” was an asterisk and below, in her very familiar and comforting handwriting, were her words to me: “I love you, also! With love, Mother.”
Maybe it was only a simple phrase written on a card sent years ago. Yet it is amazing how love can touch us again and again. And how we need it again and again.
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