Those three words.
Do you remember the first time a specific person said “I love you” to you for the first time? Isn’t it interesting that sometimes it becomes so normal – almost expected – that you can’t remember a time you didn’t end a phone call or conversation with those three words?
The first time my ex-boyfriend said “I love you” was during a phone conversation we had right before I took off on my flight to Barcelona with friends. We had been dating for almost six months and a few weeks prior, he had told me he was falling in love with me. I didn’t expect to hear either at the time, and both moments are etched in my mind.
I guess when it comes to romantic relationships, it’s easier to remember them as really significant moments – almost milestones. When it comes to family and friends, I don’t necessarily remember the first time I heard those three words from Mom or Dad. Knowing how much I say it to Nessa as a dog mom, I assume my parents must have said it a million times in my first week of life. It wasn’t until recently, though, maybe the last two years or so, that my father started ending every one of our phone conversations with, “I love you.” Even though I know it without it being said, it’s so nice to hear it.
Today, after taking my greatest best friend to the airport for her flight home, I headed back to my apartment and Face Timed my parents, who are watching my niece and nephew for the evening, so I got to speak to them as well. I have to say the hardest part of not living on the east coast is not being there to see these two grow up. There was a period of time, about five years ago, when I lived ten minutes away from my sister and her kids, and saw them every week, if not multiple times per week - for first day of school, games, or just hanging out. I always felt a particular closeness to my niece, who is also my goddaughter. She is smart and curious, funny in a sarcastic and witty way, creative and artistic, and seems completely confident in being exactly who she is. Plus, she thinks I’m the coolest aunt. Ever. (I heard her tell her friends that once, so I think she really means it). Anyway, I started to notice that she wouldn’t say “I love you” back to me when I would tuck her into bed or say goodbye on a phone conversation. It bothered me a little but, of course, I continued to say those three words to her, not expecting any response in return.
Today, after being on FaceTime together for an hour or so, as I said goodbye and I love you to the family, I heard her voice, “I love you.” I don’t know why today was any different than any other day in the past, but it was a moment for me - one that I will remember.
Three words. Sometimes they have the power to change the course of a relationship. Sometimes they have the power to comfort and support. Sometimes they have the power to just move people and make their heart smile (if hearts could smile, of course). Sometimes they become a habit and just keep things at a status quo. I’m not sure if I’ll hear those three words from my nice at the end of our next conversation or if I have to wait months or years, but whenever she is ready for say it again, I'll be ready to hear it again.
Quote for today:
“Happiness is… saying “I love you!”
About the photo: this is my niece and I last summer when I met my family in Charleston, SC, for a visit.