Amid the noises of the city and the chorus of disembodied voices drifting to my yard, one conversation between a father and daughter stands out. The daughter is leaving for the gym. Her father tells her to be careful. I-love-yous are exchanged—eight, perhaps, in the course of their brief interaction.
As I sit here eavesdropping, I see much more than I hear. I imagine, for example, this neighbor's late wife has been resurrected in his grown daughter's face, that "I love you" is not just a declaration but a prayer. I am thinking about many things—how we can think of love itself as a talisman against the worst of things—even death—though our rational minds know better. This neighbor knows better. His knowledge is evident in every utterance of affection: my love may not protect you, but you can carry it with you. Are you driving? I love you. Be careful. I love you. I have loved you all the days I have not been able to tell you, all the days that may never come.
Do we ever say it enough? Do we let love fall like a mantra from our lips?