I Love You~ The three most powerful words in the English language. And how cleverly Jane Austen used them.
In Darcy’s first botched proposal:
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Our darling Darcy says I love you. He may not set the words in the proper framework, but he gets them out.
In Darcy’s second proposal:
“My affections and wishes are unchanged.” Note that the wordsI Love You are almost too painful for him to repeat. Instead Jane Austen describes his actions ~ he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.
I have a problem with the way the words I Love You have been mistreated. Current lazy-speak has cast them onto the slang heap with phrases like “I’m fine, thank you” being converted to “same old, same old” or worse yet, “meh,” the lazy way of stating a negative opinion. (Whoever brought “meh” to the table, please take it back!)
Imagine if Darcy had popped in on Elizabeth, diddled about, and then said “Love ‘Ya!”
And Elizabeth responded with “Meh!”
Barump-bump! That’s all folks!
The importance of the phrase I love you is now watered down for a generation of children. Permanently blended with good-bye, Love Ya has become an over-worked slogan dangling somewhere between how are you and take care. LoveYaBye. Err…
Anecdote from my personal archives
My son-in-law was a business traveler, and called home from his road trips. Each call ended with LoveYa, and then a pregnant pause. “Love you, too,” my daughter would dutifully respond. Ashley, then a toddler, would repeat the phrase, blow a kiss and hang up. It was an empty benediction.
Beastly cell phones litter our ear-scape. They force us to overhear the intimate details of conversations about and to folks we’ll never meet. At the conclusion of most strangers’ speed-speak, over the roar of traffic or the clang of a cash register, comes that strange new word… LoveYaBye.
Business now allows my son-in-law to stay in town, but still he relies on his mantra. “LoveYa,” he says as he dashes to the store for whatnots and a quart of milk. The family now numbers four. Ashley and her little sister Bailey chant in unison, “LoveYa, too.” The slogan hangs in the air, impotent.
Recent events have caused us to carry the thought that any goodbye might be our last goodbye, but must we remind our children of this every time we exit? An occasional snuggled I Love You is a thousand times better than a single drive-by LoveYa.
As my daughter was growing, I frequently (but not too frequently) told her I loved her. These powerful words came at unexpected times and were not a prayer for safekeeping, nor were they my final words of record. I said them because I couldn’t contain them in my heart without bursting.
On the last evening of one of my weekend visits to my daughter’s family, I was in the living room cradling three-year-old Bailey who had fallen asleep in my arms. My son-in-law’s voice trailed down the hall.
“Good night, Ashley. LoveYa.” He began the ritual.
“Good night,” she responded.
“You didn’t say I love you,” he said.
“Why didn’t you say I love you?” he persisted.
Still no response.
“Don’t you love me?” Insecurity thickened his speech. Obsessive, he repeated, “LoveYa.”
“Uh huh,” Ashley said.
“Ashley, why won’t you say I love you? You hardly say it anymore.”
“I’m bored with it,” she said.
“You’re bored with saying I love you?” He faltered.
Eight-years-old, Ashley had run out of I Love You’s.
I hesitate mentioning it to my daughter for I would have to dissect my own feelings about the word. Did I use it too much or too little when she was a child? Guilt trip. I spent the night arguing with myself, painfully aware of the slow leak in the guest bed/inflatable mattress. To speak or not to speak? I said nothing.
The next morning still struggling with how to help Ashley cope with the word, I dropped her off at school. Driving Ashley to school was always a special time for us, a way we said goodbye after our fun weekend together. My darling granddaughter sat proudly next to me, buckled and beaming. I didn’t want to start a dialogue I couldn’t finish in ten minutes, but what if I never got to explain about the love word?
My mind scrambled as I eased my car into the drop-off line. I felt helpless. No time left and so much to say. Ashley leaned over her Princess backpack to kiss me. “I love you, so much,” I whispered in her little pink ear.
She popped out of my car and marched smartly to the school door. A tear slipped down my check… standard for me. My heart ached as I watched my grownup little granddaughter who was bored with saying I love you. And then at the very last minute, she turned back to me, and with her precious little fingers signed, I Love You.
I love you all.