I wonder a little about that admonition that we should make a point to tell those around us for whom we care just how much we care. "Tell people that you love them," we are reminded over and over again by Hollywood and its ilk. The idea is clear: share your feelings with those closest to you before you can't. The stories we get are tragic tales of how bad we feel when that opportunity to say "I love you" slips past us and because of the tragic death of the loved one.
I didn't notice this was a problem until 1990. That's when I went to see Ghost. Young marrieds Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are living the dream, right up until the moment when Patrick is murdered by his smarmy business partner to cover up the housing crisis. The spirit of Mister Swayze wanders the streets in limbo, looking for a way to avenge his death and to bring Mister Smarm to justice. That and get over that problem he has saying "I love you" to his now widowed wife. For all those quiet moments together, when she said, "I love you," the best Patrick could muster was "ditto." That "me too" response was the hole in their marriage. Not good enough, even if you're Patrick Swayze. It didn't matter how much Righteous Brothers he plays on that jukebox of theirs, or how many pots they make together in that fancy loft, there's no real love in "Ditto." Before he can ascend into heaven and Whoopi Goldberg could win her Oscar, he had to come back from the dead and fill that three word void. Oh, and the smarmy guy gets cut to ribbons and demons carry his tormented soul someplace much darker. But mostly he said, "I love you."
The thing is, in real life, once people fall in love and get married they don't spend as much time saying "I love you" as showing it. They get caught up in all the business of everyday life. Laundry and bills and taxes and shopping and the minutiae that make up every dull day. The conversations turn endlessly practical and distractions keep the romantic mutterings to a minimum.
This isn't to say that there isn't some value in the need to express it every so often. Every day. You never know when your smarmy business partner is going to come and take your voice away. It's nice to hear it. It's nice to say it. It's just not very practical. So thanks for the reminder, and I'll do what I can to meet the RDA for I love you. With our without the jukebox and pottery.