It’s been a month since Bob Saget, the actor, comedian, and host best known for playing the lovable dad in Full House, died unexpectedly and amidst many tears. By all accounts, he was a kind man, a family man, someone who would give you the shirt off his back and make you laugh through it all. But what struck me about what everyone – literally, everyone – said about him was this: “He never let a conversation end without telling me he loved me.”
It didn’t matter if you were his spouse, one of his children, a friend, or a colleague, you knew Bob loved you. He said it frequently and meaningfully. He showed it in his actions.
This impacted me because too many times too many people avoid saying “I love you.” Maybe the sentiment makes them uncomfortable, or they’ve been taught that expressing love is weak or makes one vulnerable. Or maybe they just don’t think about saying it. Perhaps they have the belief that the other person already knows how they feel and it’s unnecessary to repeat it. Or maybe they fear rejection, a lack of response, a lack of validation of their love.
All of these perspectives are understandable. But I’ve never heard anyone complain that their dad, wife, or friend says “I love you” too much. I’ve heard plenty of the opposite. As human beings, we crave love. It’s one of Maslow’s human necessities in his Hierarchy of Needs.
For this reason, I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. On the surface, that seems to make no sense. But to me, it’s a day when Hallmark tells us we need to express love, and I think I balk at the notion of being told or reminded to do that. Do we really need a holiday to remind us to love others? As couples, do we need to be prompted to go on a date, versus inherently knowing to nurture our relationships and thoughtfully plan outings year-round? And do singles need to be reminded that they’re not coupled up, especially when they desperately want to be?
Then there’s the money being made on heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, $7 cards, stuffed animals, roses at double the normal cost… you get the picture. It’s an expensive, commercialized holiday and the irony is that love shouldn’t cost a dime.
I don’t like to sound like a cynic or that person who has a problem with holidays, as I’m neither. But I would like us to ask ourselves if we need Valentine’s Day to express love. Does February 14 give us a free pass to not be romantic or to not verbalize our love the other 364 days of the year? If you find yourself answering yes, I encourage you to examine your heart.
Any moment could be our last. That’s the reality of life and death. Of course, we can’t spend all our waking moments thinking about the moment when we won’t wake, but we can certainly be cognizant of the fact that we’re all on limited time on this Earth. Personally, I never want anyone in my life to be in doubt of my love for them. I want them to be able to say, “She loved me, and she never let me forget it.”