The day my great-aunt died, my mom and I went to visit her, as we often did after school. She was pretty much bat-shit nuts in the best way possible, and she had cared for me everyday since I was six weeks old, while my mom went to work. She suffered a series of strokes that eventually left her half-paralyzed, incoherent and wired up for life support in a nursing home.
I remember as I rested my hand on her arm that day, it felt cold. We called a nurse to check her vitals, but she said everything was fine. Unsuspecting, we left. We left her in that room, her only company the little trinkets and gifts we brought for our own peace of mind, really. Just in case one day she woke up, she would know that she was loved.
That last time I left her room, as I was almost out the door, I turned around and said, “I love you.” She died a few hours later. That was the last thing anyone ever said to her. How extraordinarily lucky I felt, to be able to have given her her last words. And how lucky that they happened to be “I love you.”
A year or so later, my little brother was born. The first time I held him, I told him I loved him. I loved that little person who I didn’t even know yet. I loved him just because he was alive. He redefined what I knew love to be, much like my great-aunt did.
I used to think it was just a feeling, but I learned it was also a verb. I thought it was an expression of gratitude for someone who had done something for you, but I realized that it didn’t have to be. You could love someone unconditionally. When I went to college and met my first serious boyfriend, love was redefined for me yet again. It’s been constantly revolutionizing for me, in ways I didn’t know possible until they happen.
So after all this time, seeing some of the infinitely undefinable and differing kinds of love, wondering to myself what the hell it all even means, I realized that it means whatever you want it to. You don’t have to find someone who fits a certain set of standards that you had in your head for when you’ll fall in love with them. Sometimes, it just happens. Sometimes it’s not love, and you think its, but you discover otherwise. That’s okay, because love is whatever you make it out to be. Love is undefinable because it’s constantly being redefined. To the best you’re able, make your last words “I love you” and all the rest of them proclamations of that love… so you have someone to say it for you, if you’re unable.