I have been told (and I’m sure it’s true) that the kind of love we all need most is unconditional love — love that says “I love you anyway,” rather than “I’ll love you if…” or “I love you because….” It’s important to know that some people in our lives love us no matter what ridiculous things we do.
But if you ask me, there’s also a place for “I love you because….” If someone tells me they love me, that’s nice. But “I love you” can so quickly become an empty ritual of words between people who care for each other. I love it when someone tells me why they love me, what they find lovable about me. It makes me feel noticed and cherished.
So for Valentine’s Day, I’m writing a love letter to a whole lot of people whom I love because…of various things. It’s by no means a comprehensive list of everyone I love or all the things I love about them, but I’ve tried to hit a few highlights. This could get lengthy, so buckle in for a long read. Or you could just skim the list hoping your own name pops out at you!
It being Valentine’s Day, I’ll start with my sweetheart. Jason, I love you because you make me laugh. Even when life and marriage and parenting are stressful and crazy and busy, you can crack me up with a word or a glance, and that is the coping mechanism I can’t cope without. I love that you always have my back, that you never go into the kitchen without asking if I want something, and that you read things out loud to me even when I’m trying to sleep. I love sharing my life with you.
Christopher, I love how you demand that I come in and lie down with you at night, even if I’m busy and claim I haven’t got time. I love that no matter how long I stay you always insist it wasn’t long enough. I love that during those quiet moments, you slip in little confidences a big ten-year-old boy wouldn’t share with his mom during daylight hours. I love how your mind effortlessly picks up facts and information and how randomly they pop into conversation. I love your silliness.
Emma, I love the little furrowed wrinkle in your brow and your hand gestures that are so eerily like mine when you’re explaining something, how earnest and intense you are. I love you because you were so devastated by the picture in a newsmagazine of two little girls your own age in Iraq who were injured when a bomb went off near their school. I love your tender heart and I hope it always stays soft and permeable. I love it when you say “We were made for each other, Mom” and when we sing “our song” (“If Anything Happened To You” by the Ennis Sisters).
As for my own Mom, I love the way you remember everyone’s birthday and every little fact about people (“Shirley’s daughter works in that building”!) and how people’s stories and the details of their lives are so important to you. I strive to have even a tiny fraction of the thoughtfulness that comes so naturally to you.
Dad, I love you because you, too, have always been able to make me laugh. I love you for the gifts of music and of words that were the ever-present background to our lives at home. I may never have become a Roads Scholar but whatever I have accomplished has been thanks to what you’ve given me.
I love my Aunt Gertie because she taught me to bake. I never blend butter and sugar together without thinking of Aunt Gertie’s kitchen and everything I learned there, which was so much more than baking — laughter and love and life and resilience.
To my extended family — the Morgans, and all the Morgan cousins and aunts and uncles and Morgans-by-morganatic-marriage and those who are no longer with us — I love you for your obsession with words, books, storytelling and language. This was the best family in the world for a writer to grow up in, and I love that even those relatives who aren’t printers, publishers, writers or English teachers are all avid readers and the most natural way to start a conversation is to ask “What are you reading lately?” And I think it’s cute how y’all give each other books as gifts.
I love my friends. Sherry, I love you because you are a part of my history, because you remember the things no-one else knows and the secrets I would rather keep! You are like the sister I never had and I love the security of knowing our friendship will always be there no matter what happens.
If Sherry is like the sister I never had then I also have to mention that Darryl is like the brother I never had and say, I love you bro, even if you never read my blog. We’ve been through it all together and I never have to doubt that you’ll be there for me.
Strident Women — Tina, Natalie, Christine, Jennifer and Lori S., I love all five of you because there is virtually nothing we can’t talk about — whether over coffee or on the Facebook wall. And I know that what’s said in Eastport (literally or metaphorically) STAYS in Eastport! Thanks for showing me that it is possible to make true friends after age 40!!
I love Jamie and Cathy because we learned so much together at Kingsway, even though I was supposedly the teacher and you were the students — sometimes I think I learned more than you did. And I love the fact that we’ve all grown up but not apart since then.
Kerry, I love you because you ask hard questions and make me think.
Sharon, I love you because when you picked me up at Newark Airport in 2003, even though we hadn’t seen each other for more than 10 years, we picked up right where we left off.
Katrina, I love you because you’re as much fun in real life as you are online.
To the friends I didn’t mention by name here: I love you too, especially the many old friends from Andrews and Kingsway days who I rarely hear from now but with whom I share such great memories. The list could go on and on, and each one of you has changed my life. I would not be the person I am today without you (which you may consider a good thing, or not…)
I love my local church because it’s like a big dysfunctional extended family. I love the people there, even the few I don’t like, because of how they pull together to support the hurting, sick and dying, how they provide a sense of community for my children and for me too. They are the people who taught me how to worship, how to pray and how to be good to each other even when you disagree.
I love my co-workers — each and every one of them, Ann the Wise Woman and Ron “feel my abs” B., and Grumpy Old Jeff and the Two Tims, and Bren and Dave and Peggy and Ros and Kim and Carol and Denise and Matt and Sharon … I love you all because you are so completely and wildly diverse in personality and background but you all share the same passion for working with the young people who come through our doors. I have learned so much from all of you.
I love the students I’ve taught over the last 21 years, including the kids from the St. John’s church youth group. Nothing in my career has ever made me happier than working with teenagers and young adults, and I have been so proud to see the ways in which you have all moved forward into your lives, even as you make mistakes, fall down and pick yourselves up again. I’m still in touch with only a small percentage of you (more than I used to be, thanks to Facebook) but I have to say that, no matter what your personal beliefs about God are, you are always in my prayers. I’d like to start mentioning names but I’d never stop. The ones I’d most like to mention by name — well, if you’re reading this, you know who you are.
I love the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild members, many of whom have been mentors to me in my writing career. Like my church family, they sometimes make me crazy but the bonds that hold us together are always there.
I love the bloggers whose blogs I read because they are funny, thought-provoking and insightful. I love the people who read my blog, especially those who post comments, because they make me feel I am being heard and not just howling into the void. I love lurkers too but I think you should come out and say hi.
I love the Ship of Fools and all who sail in her, because she has been a safe and challenging vessel for the last four years of my spiritual journey. Going back to my pre-Ship, pre-blogging days, I still love Lori W., Cathy, Dave and Elaine and the rest of the crowd from the “old board,” though we don’t talk much anymore, because you were my companions for the first steps of a journey into uncharted territory, where I learned it was OK to ask questions that had always frightened me, and that the Internet could be a good and safe place to do so.
I love Lori M., J. Scott, Celeste, Catherine D., Nathan, Julius, Michael, Allan, Linda and several above-mentioned friends, because you play Scrabulous with me on Facebook. What would I do without you???
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” (Philippians 1:3,4)