Have I told you lately that I love you?

She lives next door to me.  I only have to take about 50 steps from my east deck to be at her front door.  I have to go by her house to get out my driveway.  34 years ago this morning she took her first breath of air on this earth and 34 years ago this morning I suddenly cared more about her than anything else…That’s my daughter, the one who made my heart grow in a most delightful way, 34 years ago at 5:04 in the morning. It’s funny to me that we now can go literally for days without seeing each other, or speaking, so close and yet so far…We text often; facts like the little blonde wonder, her youngest, needs to be driven to Tuesday evening tumbling class, and the brilliant brunette, her teenager, needs to be driven to Thursday afternoon dance competition, so we have to communicate information, but that is mostly all it is…She left for work and forgot to close her garage door…will I check her mailbox…She had to leave and the dogs are still out…simple messages of the day-to-day that she sends me, we don’t really have much “big talk” and that’s okay.  It’s part of how life changes over time. She knows I am here to hear her when she needs big talks.  Every time we text or talk about anything I still feel such a rush of love and adoration for her so deep that it’s never been able to be adequately described…

Watching her get married right after high school was one of the saddest experiences of my life, but 13 months later watching her become a mother turned out to be one of the happiest experiences of my life.  Watching her get divorced nine years later broke my heart, but watching her fall in love again to a man who made so many of her dreams come true made my heart for her feel well healed.  Watching her fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher brought back hundreds of happy memories of watching her “play school” for hours and hours of her childhood.  It’s funny, when you love your baby, but your baby is now a 34 year-old mother and wife, you realize that most of your thoughts of her are memories…things that happened once before, as her life is full and busy while she makes her own memories with her daughters, so I become a person on the periphery…still so important I suppose, but on the outside, the outskirts of her life…I became, over these years, more of an observer than a participant in her life, which is normal and part of the cycle.  What makes it perhaps easier for me than it might be for other mothers is that I am next door to her, and with that comes a sense of connection that can’t be denied.  I don’t “miss her” like many other women miss their adult daughters because we are so connected.

Because our lives are busy the action of loving her and her girls has become more significant than the words of loving her and her girls.  I have been thinking a lot this winter about action love and word love.  Like Depeche Mode sings, “words are meaningless and forgettable.”   It becomes more apparent to me as the years go by that the words are seldom, if ever, as important as the actions.  I suppose if it comes down to it, I would do just about anything for my daughter.  I have said ‘no,’ about lots of things lots of times over these 34 years but, “yes” is certainly more of the action love we do around here than not.  I don’t pay as much attention to word ‘love’ like many other people do, perhaps because  I learned over the years that the value of action love is superior to me than the often evidently meaningless “value” of word love.  My actions as a mother and a Nana are love.  My time and attention to their needs is the phrase “I love you” without even saying anything.  When I wake up much earlier than I need to, so that I can take each of her daughters to the bus stop, so that she can get on with her morning uninterrupted, that’s action love.  When I invite her over for game night or sangria, even if I have no information to share, that’s action love.  When I left work early for years to greet little girls off the school bus so that she did not have to leave work early, that was action love.  EVERY thing we do for somebody we love, that we don’t have to do, is showing love in a more profound way than uttering the words of love. The actions of love are far more important and far more meaningful than any words that are ever spoken, at least to me…

When I see her thriving happily I feel like she is everything I have ever done right in my life.  When I see her struggle I feel like I wish I could help more, do more, fix more of what needs adjusting…those feelings are where action love falls short; we can’t always help, do, or fix for those we love, part of growth is having to experience that which makes us uncomfortable and uneasy, AND we all have to suffer those trials and hardships to evolve.  On Christmas afternoon I was nearly brought to tears, just looking around the table and seeing how much love was in the dining room…this small house feels so big when it is filled with laughter and love.  There have been moments over these 34 years, but honestly mostly over these last ten, where I have asked the universe “what’s so special about me that I get THIS life?”  I have felt so lucky, too lucky, that there is so much love in my life when so many have so little.  There is such depth of suffering, and so much untethered sadness all around us, everywhere we look, if we are open to seeing it, and yet my daughter and I get to live next door to each other with an abundance of laughter and love and good feelings that just seems unfair at times, that we get such excess when too many have none.  I have not told her lately that I loved her, BUT perhaps building these two houses on these two lots and helping her with her two children, will turn out to be the greatest action love there ever could have been for me to give, and really, that is beyond all words isn’t it?

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