3 words, 7 letters
By Meredith Hutchinson
“Alrighty. It's been real.”
“Talk soon. Deuces.”
It's as simple as a 3-word, 7-letter phrase: "I love you". But instead, every routine “catch up” phone call with my siblings ends in some variation of this exchange. We manage to stumble over vague phrases or words just to convey the simple sentiment of “I love you, I’m glad we talked, goodbye.” I throw it around so casually with friends, shortening it to “ily” or “luv ya!” in a text or a phone call and tacking it onto the end of a birthday post. It has become a phrase only taken seriously in a romantic sense, revealing deep vulnerability and trust in another person. But for me, expressing it so explicitly with my siblings is a barrier I have not been able to overcome.
The thought of ending a phone call with my sister saying “love you, bye.” makes me want to throw up. The thought of hugging my brother goodbye when I leave for college makes me cringe. People only take saying “I love you” seriously in a romantic sense. However, these are two people who I love more than absolutely anything, who understand me on the most fundamental level, and who I’ve spent the last 19 years of my life with. Why can I casually say “love you!” in a conversation with friends that I made just a few months ago, but can’t bring myself to form those very same words with my siblings?
Skipping the “I love you” is almost an unspoken rule we have, where we opt to say “Peace,” or salute each other when we say goodbye in place of an “I love you.” The strange thing is, as we’ve gotten older, the thought of saying those words has become even stranger. As we’ve grown up and endured hardship together, we coped in similar ways. Being vulnerable with each other and asking for help became difficult, but we learned how to read and understand each other’s emotions without needing words. When times were difficult, my siblings stepped in and did more for me than I would expect most siblings to. We’ve show how much we are there for each other through our actions, instead of our words– and that’s meant ten times more to me than any words ever could.
I don’t think there are any two people in the world that I love more than my siblings. And I think they know that, too. They don’t need me to tell them everytime we hang up the phone to catch up; it's implicit. Saying “I love you” to someone has become something only taken seriously in a romantic sense. Otherwise, it's just a casual, everyday thing to tell people you love them, which at times strips this incredibly deep emotion of its meaning. Maybe reserving the unspoken “I love you’s” for the people who don’t need to hear it to know it actually means more than any words ever could.
So, on this lovely February 14th, I encourage you to say those 3 words and 7 letters to everyone you want to, hug your friends, show affection if that’s your vibe. But remember that some things are better left unsaid, and that's beautiful too.