All The Things I’ve Never Said

I’m a really observant person. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is just watch people. So often, when I’m out and about, I see someone or have an exchange with someone who leaves me feeling really great. The reason it leaves me feeling so good is because of the other person. I so often want to tell them, “You’re wonderful.” Or…“You have such a nice way with people.” Or…“I really, really like you.”

But mostly, I don’t.

The times in my life when I have told someone exactly how I felt about them (despite my fear that I might be overstepping the social norm) I have been met with such incredible warmth and gratitude. And why not?! I love it when someone waxes poetic about me!

Last summer, a really wonderful friend of mine passed away. I’d known him my whole life and he’d struggled with cancer for over 20 years. His sister, who I’ve also known my whole life (but haven’t been as close to) had a lot to deal with losing her brother. And on top of this, her husband has advanced dementia and is in a hospital. Between her brother and her husband, she’s had a number of struggles. And everyone watched her manage it all on her own.

When my friend passed away, I wrote his sister a note. And I was utterly honest. I told her that I thought she was an Angel. I told her that I think this world has been blessed because of her selfless caring and compassion. And I told her that I know all of this has not been easy for her. I told her how wonderful I thought she was.

She wrote me back and told me that, out of all of the cards she received, mine had touched her so deeply that she is framing the card and putting it up in the cottage where she and her brother spent so much time together. Wow, I thought. I was so glad I told her exactly how I felt. I was so glad that I’d held nothing back.

But there are so many other times that I clam up. I don’t want to do this anymore. When I do this it thwarts both my and the other person’s experience of this life. After all, I’m thinking these things; these loving, warm thoughts. Why wouldn’t someone want to hear them? I’m so often afraid that they’ll think I’m inappropriate. Or if the things I want to say are to someone of the opposite sex, that I’m being flirtatious and suggestive. Which is really a silly excuse.

We’re often regretful of the things we have said. I know that, for years, I spoke irresponsibly. I often said things I didn’t mean, just to be accepted by others. I often said things because I wanted to shock people and get attention. But they weren’t true to form. And, at times, I said things to hurt people. To my knowledge, I don’t do this anymore. But this is not my biggest regret. My biggest regret are the things I haven’t said.

To not communicate your love or your regard or your compassion or your affection for someone, regardless of what role they play in your life, is the bigger of the shames. How often have we heard someone say that they’d wished they’d told someone they knew and loved just how much they meant to them before they died. Why do we do this? Why do we wait?

I believe it’s because we’re scared. It’s easier to rub someone the wrong way than to look at them right in the eye and tell them how amazing you think they are. It’s easier to tell someone all the things they’re doing wrong or what their deficiencies are, than to tell them that you’re a better person because they’re in your life.

So. Here goes:

Mom: I love you more than you’ll ever know. I think you’re one of my angels here and I appreciate you beyond words.

Dad: My heart breaks with love for you. My favorite memories from my childhood are of holding your hand. I’d never felt safer.

Amy: I look up to you more than anyone here on this earth. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that you’re my big sister.

Scott: You’ve loved me without condition for almost 20 years. I literally don’t know what I’d do without you. You make me laugh. You make me smile. I love your big, broad shoulders. I just love you to pieces.

Ava: Words could never even come close to describing how much I love you. I waited for you for 8 years. You’re my everything; my world; my light. I love you with everything that I am.

The woman I saw 4 years ago: I’ve never met you. I’ve never even spoken to you. But one day, while I was really, really sad, I saw you standing outside a country store. You looked at me and just smiled. But it was no ordinary smile. You knew. You knew I was sad and you beamed the most compassionate, light-filled smile my way. I’ve never forgotten you and how, for a moment, you made a big difference in my life. Thank you.

I could go on and on and on and on….I really could. There’s my awesome, brother-in law, who, really, is now my big brother. There’s my grandparents who, in the living and the passed, I love with all my heart. There’s my nieces and nephews who, make my life incredibly rich (and make me cry at hockey games). There are my aunts and uncles and cousins who I love dearly and relate to deeply. There are my friends…far and near…for which my life would not be complete without you in it. Some have been around for a very long time (Marla, Michelle, Angie and Screech) and I know, will be in my life forever. Just ’cause you’re so awesome! And my new friends who are equally wonderful and make my life so rich. There are all the amazing people who I encounter daily at the grocery store, Starbucks, parent-child classes, neighbors, dogs, cats….Of course, I could go on and on but this keyboard would light on fire with everything that I’d like to say to everyone.

Just writing this is filling my heart with all kinds of love.

So why don’t we SAY IT OUT LOUD?

We’re afraid. We’re afraid of being too much. We’re afraid our words of love might scare the other guy off. And you know, if it did, that’s okay. At least they’d go away knowing how much they meant to you. And nothing would be left unsaid. You’d feel complete.

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