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Who was the first person to tell you “I love you"...

... and you truly felt what those words meant?

This question is one of the many questions that I asked myself, in the beginning of my healing process/spiritual journey. I have been told and I have told people, “I love you” more times than I can count.

I asked myself that question because I have heard the words, “I love you” my entire life but I wondered had I ever truly felt those words. I thought about my relationship with my dad and I recalled that whenever I talked with him on the phone or in person, he would always tell me how much he loved me.

I was completely befuddled because I couldn’t understand how that could be the case, when I would go years without seeing or hearing from him. In those moments I believed him because I wanted so badly for that to be my reality but I never truly felt what the words “I love you” meant when he gave them. I couldn’t because my heart was not soft enough nor was I ready for God’s love and all the different ways that it represents itself.

The first person that told me “I love you” and I truly felt what those words meant, was my grandmother, Florence Coleman.

The date was November the 25th 2006 at about 8:45 that evening. Earlier that evening I had spoken with my mother and I asked her how my grandmother was doing. My mother told me my grandmother wasn’t so well and that my grandmother was unable to talk because she was slowly but surely heading home.

I said the only thing I could say in that moment which was a simple ok and I told my mother I wanted to call the hospital to check on her. I called and asked if they could connect me to my grandmother’s room. I don’t know why I did that because I knew she wouldn’t answer the phone but I said a quick prayer, “please God let her answer the phone.”

She answered. When she picked up the phone I asked her what I always asked her, “Ma, how are you feeling?” And, she replied like she always did except this time it was a little different. My grandmother was a fighter, so when she said, “hey baby, your ole Ma is tired now”, I knew what those words meant.

I will never forget those words because I had never heard her or seen her give an inch, so in that moment, I accepted the fact that this would be my last conversation with my grandmother, my world, my everything. I could hear that she was weak and getting weaker with every word but how could I hangup the phone?

We talked for a few more minutes, which felt like seconds to me and I’m sure felt like hours to her because she was so weak. At the end of the conversation I told her, “by, I love you Ma” in a way that I had never told her before and she replied with the same answer that she always replied with, except she said it twice, “you be good and I love you more, I love you more. Bye baby.”

She hung up the phone. That was my last conversation with my grandmother and it was in that same moment, that for the first time I truly felt what the words, “I love you,” meant. I called my mother and told her I had just talked to my grandmother. My mother told me my grandmother must have been waiting to hear from me and that she was ready to go home now.

On November the 26th at 6:45 that sunday morning, my grandmother’s favorite day of the week, my mother received the call that my grandmother had passed away.

I am saying that that was the first time I truly felt what the words, “I love you” meant, was when my grandmother gave them to me that day but that is not completely true. I felt that same feeling when I was a nineteen year old kid in Iraq, fighting in the dessert storm war, and after four months I finally talked to my mother and brother but the connection wasn’t very good and they couldn’t hear me very well but I could hear my brother and mother both telling me, “I love you” over and over again.

They didn’t know if I could hear them or not but they wanted to make sure that I knew that they loved me. I can remember that moment like it was yesterday because I truly felt what the words “I love you” meant. I felt that same feeling, when my daughter, who at the time was 16, and I had a three hour conversation about how her boyfriend wanted to make their relationship a physical relationship but she was not at that place in her life and she was very confused on what to do.

Among other things, I explained to her why she should never allow herself to be tainted because of someone else’s desires and that when she was ready to cross that bridge it should be when she was ready. She was crying and she said, “thank you Daddy, I love you.” I truly felt what the words, “I love you,” meant. I could give countless examples of when I felt what the words, “I love you” meant because I now know what that feeling feels like and before I didn’t.

When I look back at some of the times I truly felt what the words, “I love you” meant, I was in a place where my heart was soft and I could receive the words when they were given to me. And the most beautiful thing of it all, is that I have been taught how to give the words as well. I love you.

Who was the first person to tell you, “I love you”, and you truly felt what those words meant?…

Truth. Love. Compassion.