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Friday, November 7, 2014

Finally hearing the words you should have been hearing all along.

Last night Oscar was very sick.  He had a persistent cough and last night it peaked.  Around midnight his loud cough was enough to get me out of bed to check on him.  In the dim light I saw he was miserable.  I felt his head and he was burning up.  He was in a half sleep state and I asked him if he was hot and he said a barely audible "yet." (He is still working on his S's).  I took his pajama bottoms off and I heard a little "Thank you."I got him a cold wash cloth and placed it on his burning forehead. "Thank you", he mumbled.  I gave him a drink and again he said "Thank you mommy" and after a long pause he said,  "I love you."

Maybe it was the way he said it, or just the fact that he was feeling so awful but still wanted to tell me he loved me and was thankful, that brought me to my knees.  I kneeled down next to his bed and held his hand.  And within seconds tears were rolling down my face. My head was resting against his bed because I didn't have the energy to hold it up on my own.   Even when I heard his little snores I still sat there holding his hand and crying.

Words coming from my four year old touched me deeper than any words ever have.  I'm not exaggerating. Because for the first time I heard someone say they loved me.   I mean, I actually heard it with my heart and soul.

I am lucky that those words are familiar to me.  A day doesn't go by without hearing it from my Mom. When I talk to my brother he always tells me, my grandparents used to utter those words,  friends say it too.  When Don first told me he loved me I replied with "thank you." Not because I didn't feel the same way, but because the word itself just feels overused.

Don and I don't say "I love you" for that reason.  We have other words that are unique to us and sound ridiculous to anyone else.    The boys tell me they love me mostly after I tell them, but sometimes on their own.  Hearing it certainly makes me happy and I appreciate it, but at the same time, the words don't carry much of a punch.

It was in the middle of the night when I was at my most vulnerable state.   Our usually loud rambunctious house was quiet and sleepy.  Just moments before I was fast asleep and now I was kneeling at Oscar's bed crying.

Perhaps it was guilt. When I heard him coughing my first thought was that I was going to miss out on my sleep.  My legs took me to his side before my brain had even woken up.

But in that dark room I heard for the first time that I am loved.  It clicked.  I wasn't prepared to deflect his words, and in the silence I didn't have it dubbed into the mix of chaos of the day.  I was put in that silent moment so that the only words I would hear were ones I should have heard a long time ago.

Just because I don't attach weight to the words doesn't mean the person who is saying them feels the same way.  It is like being on a golf course and hearing the word "FORE" and not looking up and assuming the person who yelled it must not have actually meant it.

It wasn't until that moment that I was unexpectedly open and able to receive it, and I did.

A few minutes later I returned to bed feeling loved.  I woke up feeling loved.  Oscar's words occupied the hollow areas of my soul that I have neglected for so long.  I'm pretty good and finding reasons that I am unlovable, but at that moment I didn't try and it felt wonderful.

What Oscar couldn't have known is that I have had a rough couple months.  I had sunk into one of the familiar dark holes without explanation. I didn't feel anything, let alone love.  His words were the rope to start the processes of getting me out.

I needed to write about this  because I know in a few months, or a year I will be going about my day and one of the boys will tell me they love me and my mind will talk over it.  Or they will give me a picture of a rainbow with the words I Heart You and I will file it away with all the other rainbows.

I understand the tendency as a mother to keep going, trying to get as much done in the least amount of time. But I beg you, the next time your child or parent, or partner tells you they love you, listen with your heart because they mean it. And you never know when you will long so deeply to hear those words and won't be able to.

And in case you are wondering, Oscar is feeling much better. Apparently we equally needed each other to heal.


  1. I love you too Noelle

  2. Noelle, this is a beautiful piece of writing. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  3. Precious. I know that feeling, and it's so wonderful.

  4. We all have those moments I think. It's nice to know I'm not alone.