“I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.”
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Everyone knows the words to this now infamous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’m sure we’ll be hearing them a lot more.
My beautiful daughter Lia Varga on the Brooklyn Bridge/Photo by Larry Yu
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the expressions of love and gratitude. My husband still makes my heart skip a beat when he walks in carrying a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses and my ears will never tire of hearing the words, I love you. While my arms will be forever grateful for his embrace, however, I expect and want these expressions of love every day of the year.
Valentine’s Day has long been recognized as a day when we can show our appreciation and express our love. Many believe this is best shown through big gestures like expensive jewelry and romantic getaways. However, several studies have continually shown that the small, repeated gestures are what matter most. Not surprisingly, researchers also found that people prefer behavioral actions over verbal expressions.
As I often say, words are cheap if your actions don’t follow suit. The small little things we do are what help us to feel loved and appreciated every day and this applies to both romantic and platonic relationships. It’s important to feel loved, wanted, and needed by all the significant others in your life. Those little gestures that say, Hey, I’m here for you, I care about you or I still love you, are important to any relationship because they keep the bond of love going.
Recently, I went out to dinner with one of my closest friends, Karen. We have been friends since high school (Yes, a very long time!). Over dinner, we were talking about our high school years and I recounted how she bought me a new pair of sneakers with her very first paycheck. Karen looked over at me and laughed asking, “How do you remember these things?”
At the time, I only smiled at her in response. The truth is, though, I remember because those little gestures and those beautiful moments have left footprints on my memory. I remember because each gesture, each memory has left an imprint on my heart. And when the day comes for me to leave this Earth, there they will forever remain.
Naomi Judd’s career came to an abrupt end in 1991 after she announced she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. The announcement was made in the midst of their Love Can Build a Bridge Tour at a time when the Judds were at the high point of their career. Thankfully, she is now doing well and has since resumed some concert tours with her daughter Wynonna.
“Love Can Build a Bridge,” written as a heartfelt farewell song to her fans, won Naomi an Emmy. Speaking of her mother, Wynonna said, “This next song represents the 10 years I spent on the bus with my queen. Those were some of the best years of my life; I just didn’t know it back then. But looking back, I now realize more than ever that the history we made together was a true miracle.”
(Wynonna Judd singing “Love Can Build a Bridge”)
Beautifully said, Wynonna. I, too, have a fond memory with my mother on the bus. My mother took the day off from work to accompany me on a school trip to the Bronx Zoo when I was in first grade. I can still remember how proud I was to be sitting next to her as she sat holding my hand. Like you, I was too young to realize just how precious those moments truly are.
Love cannot only build a bridge. Love is the bridge.