Years had passed since my cousin Raina, and I saw each other last. We have always shared the title of being the youngest children in our immediate families. And after fifteen years of distance, we found ourselves at dinner, suddenly connected through the loss of her father.
Raina and I are still in the rediscovery process. Our childhood memories of each other are hidden among prom presses, college graduations, and adulthood. At the table, we talked about marriage and the pressure from our mothers to have kids. We settled on the loss of our fathers. “Were you close to him?”she asked.
“As a child, I can’t remember my father ever telling me that he loved me. As my father got older, he changed. Parts of him grew and softened.”
I told Raina about his habit of calling me for no reason at all. He would say, “I didn’t want anything. I just called to tell you how proud I am of you and that I love you.”
The period at the end of my sentence was still fresh when she turned to her brother and said, “Hey, did dad ever tell you that he loved you?”
“Nope,” he replied.
“Dad never told me he loved me either,” she said.
That night has always left me with profound sadness. My father changed with age. My uncle never did.
Every daughter needs to know that they are beautiful and loved exactly the way they are. Every son needs to feel that he is a source of pride. You can never tell your children that you love them once you are gone. Make sure they know it, hear it, and feel it every single day. Today is a perfect day to start or continue.
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