I believe love can be expressed in different forms. Simply saying, “I love you” or giving a warm hug are gestures I use to expect from the ones I loved. I learned that these aren’t at all necessary in a relationship to demonstrate feelings.
Growing up in my family I always felt that my mom didn’t care or love me very much. I would try to tell her my dreams of being a senator, try to open up to her about my fears and share my feelings, but she would always push me away and never showed interest. She rarely hugged me. When she said I love you, it was only to say good bye. It always felt she just did it because it was a social norm everyone participates in when you end a conversation over the phone. I longed to have her come up to me randomly during the day and just ask for a hug and have her say those three precious, meaningfully. Our relationship over the years dwindled and I developed bitterness towards her. I was mad that she was not the mother I wanted—a nurturing, loving, kind, caring mother.
On August 28, 2008, my mom gave birth to my baby brother Hans Joseph Sempre, in Mission Viejo Hospital. This day changed my life because I had a new brother, but it also was the first day I experienced the love my mother had for me.
The afternoon my mom went into labor, we got into an argument and she told me just to drop her off at the hospital. “Fine,” I said and drove her to the hospital and dropped her off at the emergency entrance—all while stubbornly refusing to speak to one another. A few hours later my mom called me up crying in pain and pleading for my help. My mom and step dad were getting a divorce, so the only one she had to comfort her that day was me and some nurses. I told her I would be there as soon as I could. As I drove over to the hospital I was thinking to myself how selfish and uncharitable I had been to her. I wanted to make it up to her.
There she was lying on the hospital bed crying all alone in pain. I kept silent until she exclaimed, “Tristan, hold my hand!” I grasped her hand and looked into her eyes. For seven hours I held my mother’s hand, while she poured her heart out to me. She expressed how much she loved me, she told me I’ve been a great example to her, and she was grateful I came to be with her. We cried for hours together because of the emotional pain from the years of misunderstanding. The bond we developed that night is what I always wanted. I realized it was something I could have always had—if I understood sooner, that love can be expressed in not so obvious ways.
Reflecting upon my childhood after this night, I saw my mom’s love she had for me all along. Her love she had for me was expressed in other ways, ways character to her personality and her love language. Expecting people to show their love in a certain way can cause bitterness and misunderstanding. I believe in taking time to notice the little things our loved ones do for us, for they can be more meaningful than a simple, “I love you.” My mother loves me, this I believe.
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