Sunday, August 3, 2014

The L Word

As most of you surely know, today is Esther Day, the day that we take the excellent advice given by Esther Earl in 2010 and tell the people we love that we love them.

(I don't want to bore regular readers by rehashing the things I've said multiple times before so if you don't know about Esther, or even if you do but you want to read my previous Esther Day posts anyway, you can find those here and here.)

If you know me very well at all (or, you know... if you read the posts I just linked...), you know that saying "I love you" is pretty hard for me most of the time. I can say it easily to a few people but most people rarely, if ever, hear it from me. And that's doubly sad because I do love a lot of people very much.

I think I'm getting better at it though and, like so many things in my life, I have Esther to thank for that. In 2011 I was determined to pass the gift of love that Esther gave me on to some people in my life. So I did it. It was hard and there was a part of me that hated it, but at the same time it was good to reaffirm that connection with the people I love, to be sure they knew. I did it again in 2012 and it was a little easier because now I'd done it before, and it was better still in 2013. Not easy, mind you. I don't know that it'll ever be easy for me. But Esther Day created a way for me to say it without just randomly blurting it out, and that helps a lot.

The trouble now is that, with most of the people in my life, I only say it that one time each year. I know that sounds shocking to many of you, but it's the plain truth. Esther Day is great, but I find that I've begun using it as a crutch, and I'm certain that wasn't Esther's intent. (In fact, I'm also certain that she would scold me soundly for misusing it so horribly. I'm easily old enough to be her mother, but Esther always had a way of putting me in my place when I was being stupid. Which happens more often than I like to admit.) So this year I'm doing it differently. I am telling people that I love them today, but it's my goal to tell them more often throughout the coming year, too.

In Esther's book, This Star Won't Go Out, her father, Wayne, says, "She was a champion of the lonely, a welcomer of strangers, an inviter." I can't imagine a truer description of Esther. She welcomed me and pulled me gently out from behind my wall when I was a lonely stranger, and it changed my life. I'd like nothing more than to be that point of connection for someone else. I honestly don't know whether I'm capable of it -- my personality is very different from Esther's -- but I want to try and I think one step in that direction is simply getting more comfortable with what I usually call "the L word": Love.

The best way to get better at a new thing is to practice it, so I pledge to you, dear reader, that I'll say it more than just once this year. My goal is to be able to write a post a year from today telling you that I've used the word often enough to be at least moderately comfortable with it. Who knows; maybe by Esther Day 2015 "I love you" will be as easy for me to say as "Grande espresso Frappuccino, please." A girl can dream, right?

Have you said "I love you" to anyone today? If not, it's never too late! Esther Day is fantastic, and I hope you'll celebrate Esther's life and legacy by saying "I love you" on this day. But more importantly, I hope you'll join me in saying it over and over throughout the year. It can only make life better for all of us.

If you want to improve even more people's lives, consider donating to TSWGO, the organization started by Esther's parents to help families of children with life-threatening cancer. You can also support them in any number of other ways, such as by purchasing their products at DFTBA Records or by following them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Tumblr. I know it would be appreciated.

And, as always, thank you so much for reading. I'd love to see your thoughts and comments here, and you can also find me on Twitter if you'd like.

I love you guys. Best wishes! <3