Second to “It’s not your baby,” it’s the next biggest English phrase that should stir emotion in the recipient. And sure, we’ve all used it and heard it. Some may have used it as a “get out of jail free pass” from the fight over you leering at the girl who just walked by. And we’ve all probably used it at the end of our phone conversations with mommy or daddy even without really thinking about it, more of an involuntary statement that always ends the conversation. Even after all of the nagging and guilt followed by anxiety and rage mommy instills in us, we still say it. And whatever form it takes, we’ve all been too apathetic with our use of the phrase.
We’re at our worst when it comes to finals time, where our focus shifts and priorities in life jumble together with the immediate fear of failure. We hear it in the distant background from our boyfriend/girlfriend while we’re hyper-focused on the impending doom from our Civ Pro exam. We’re just too damn busy to actually hear and pay notice to those words from our loved ones. I’m not saying a good study ethic, hard work and a strong focus in law is bad. But like heroin, hookers and healthy eating, hyper-focus requires moderation and a heavy consideration of the bigger picture. And saying, hearing and meaning the phrase “I love you” is much more important in the bigger picture.
Here’s one example why.
Louie was set to be a major league baseball pitcher. His father, a giant in stature with a deep voice and kind heart, always talked about how Louie’s screwball would take the league. Louie had an advantage over the others from the day he was born. He broke his collarbone during birth, turning his hands facing slightly away from his body instead of facing towards, like most others. During his childhood, Louie’s parents worked with him to solve any situations caused by his birth situation. He was also born with a slightly enlarged heart and other minor difficulties. But regardless of the complications, Louie led a mostly normal to above normal lifestyle as a kid. Obviously, he played baseball, was a good student, had hundreds of friends, was always running around. His complications became solvable situations, and some to his advantage. Like I said, the fact that his hands were turned out gave him an advantage on the ball-field, since his hands were crafted for the elusive pitch that was set to send him to the big leagues.
On an average morning, on an average day, Louie’s mother went to wake him up, as she’d done for years. Unfortunately, Louie didn’t wake up to his mother’s call, nor his mother’s grasps, nor his mother’s cries. The doctors said that his enlarged heart may have pinched on an artery during his sleep, causing him to pass away sometime during the night. His heart may have been just too big for this world to hold. Louie’s professional baseball career ended before it actually started. He was 13.
There’s not a day that goes by where we say “I love you” to our parents and girlfriends without really thinking about what it means and how the phrase matters. We take love for granted and hardly take the time to explain to another person that we appreciate them for how they’ve affected our lives. We just went through our finals, most of us putting our boyfriends/girlfriends through hell as we tried to fight for our sanity while cramming in as much of the “bundles of sticks” of Property Law as we could. They may have said they love us, they may have tried to kiss us, and we probably returned with evil looks or smelly bodies (I hardly shower during finals week). But finals time, like the holidays, like EVERY day, should be a time where we try our hardest not to take for granted the love that we receive. I’m just as guilty, if not more, than the rest of us.
So, being that I have a public forum:
I love you Mom and Dad, for every waking hour you sat with me as I went from hospital bed to surgery, back to hospital bed and back to surgery. For every tear you may have held back in front of me, your little boy, so I would reflect your strength through some of the hardest times. And even for the times where we disagreed, you allowed me to do that and know that I am free to do so. I love you, brother, for your bull-headish unwavering protection over me. For giving me the comfort in knowing that whatever I’d need, you’d get it for me if I asked. Even for the times that you kicked my ass when I was younger, for you taught me both to stand up for myself and to duck faster than the person throwing the punch.
I love you, friends and family, for being my friends and thus my family. There are never enough words to prove that I love and appreciate you, other than me saying that I love you and appreciate you! True friends emote true feelings and create true memories, and once you realize the value of true memories and true feelings, you’ll understand the need to thank your friends.
Now it’s your turn. Call mommy and say thank you. Tell her you love her. Call dad and tell him you appreciate him and his sacrifices. Hug your cat. Kiss your friends (leave out the tongue). Do what you need to do to show them they are appreciated and loved. No one ever knows the time when we’ll leave this place, and none of us have the opportunity to change death. What we can do, is change the LIFE of others by the words and the emotions we give to them.
Do that. Give your love, respect, admiration, and appreciation to those only you know deserve it. And though I didn’t know you all that well… I love you, Louie.
This piece originally appeared Chicago Kent Law School’s publication, The Commentator in March, 2007.
Oy!Chicago would like to thank Matt's mom, Roberta, for sharing this story with us and our Oy! readers. Read more about Matt in A Tribute to Matt.