People show you love in many different ways. It took me a while to appreciate that fact. Sometimes they say, "I love you," but don't show you. Vacuous phrase that leaves you empty. Words only have meaning and power when they are backed up with action. These days, I don't really care for just words--I don't swoon anymore when I hear, "I love you." I listen for actions. Show me you love me, don't sing it or text it, please.
My mother sent me a box filled with the Caribbean last week, and she timed it so that the package would arrive on the day that I held my New York City book reading and signing. A most auspicious day for me since the City is my home and releasing my tome was a monumental career highlight.
Mother filled the box with some of my favorite tropical fruits--mangoes, passion fruit and a giant guananaba, or sour sop, a cousin to the lychee. (See photos here and in the jump!) Don't let the needles fool you--it's a delectable fruit. The prickly green fruit is juicy and tender on the inside, and it's far more beautifully tasting than it appears. All the delicacies mom sent in a UPS box were planted, cultivated and harvested by her tender hands in her small--and I mean small, 2 by 4--garden! Mom mailed love in a box and while she could not be with me physically celebrating a career highlight, she was still there. And I am still relishing and devouring the fruits, days later. Her love lingers...
Rosie Perez showed me she loved me by being present at the reading despite being pulled in various directions. Rossana Rosado showed me love by co hosting the evening. My family showed me love by making the trek from Pennsylvania and various parts of New Jersey, bringing my niece and nephew on a school night. More than 200 people showed me love by saying presente and swarming Borders with their beautiful presence and loud caching caching as they purchased the book I wrote with love in my hands. Jimmy Smits showed me love by coming to the party and spending time celebrating my latest accomplishments. So much love and not a word was said about it. All there in full display...
Perhaps someone in your life is on a word diet and rarely says I love you yet demonstrates affection beautifully, gracefully, differently--by being there, by doing something for you, by showing up or by sending a box filled with juicy fruits. So many ways to show love, count the ways in your life.
As a young woman I desperately needed to hear these words: "I love You," from mother and those around me. My mother or really adults in my tribe rarely uttered those words. Instead mother showed me consistently how deep her love for me was: constant support, a clean home and clothes, and slow cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, for example. It was the way she knew how to express affection. And mother did it well. At some point though I stopped longing for words when I realized that her love came not like in the films or the dramatic telenovelas I watched with her. Rather more subtle and precise. Very continuous. She was there. She was present. Her love manifested itself in glorious meals of arroz con gandules, asopaos, pasteles she hand made like in the old country. She even ironed my panties! Yes she did. Mom and I have talked about love a lot because I am fascinated by the topic. And also because as an adult, I learned to ask for what I need and I asked her to also tell me she adored me. Which she now does, very often, often nauseating anyone within a two second radius.
Sometimes the love you get may not be in words, but in a box of fruits. It is like ingesting the spirit of the person you love. And I will take that any day over a Hallmark greeting card--though she sends me those too.