When “I Thank You” Goes Deeper Than “I Love You”
Reinald Agboola visited with us some years past. She noticed something awkward when I hugged my wife in the morning and said, “I love you” before stepping out. Reginal was insightful. Belching a wicked laughter, she commented, “Brother Mike, you said ‘I love you’ as if someone put a gun to your head and asked you to say it.” She was right. I did not grow up in a home where my parents said “I love you.” But they did. They showed their love by feeding me, clothing me, paying my tuition, taking me to church and spanking me when necessary. That was how my parents communicated their love to me.
Saying “I love you” is a learned behavior for me and I learned it in adulthood. So, there’s always some awkwardness to it. (By the way, the phrase, “I love you” does not translate well in my language.) During Wanle’s last days, I had some private moments with her. I said plenty of “I love you”s but the authentic comments from my mouth were “I thank you.” “I thank you” were the words with feelings and emotions for me. They were my words; they expressed how I felt deep inside; they were authentic sayings.
Repeatedly, I said to Wanle, thank you …
for giving me the privilege to be a part of your life
for this journey together, if I can do it again, I’ll have it no other way
for showing me what integrity looks like because I see it in you
for showing me what an authentic person looks like; you are a genuine person
for making me a better person, and for believing in me
for the many blessings you’ve brought into my life
for the persons – your wonderful friends – you’ve brought into my life. Friends like Peju, Biola, Temilola, Tokunbo, Yetunde, Pastor Funmi, Pastor Jumoke, Beulah, Desola,
for the ways you cared for me and put me first, even in your pains
for the ways you defend and protect me, even with your last breath
I just want you to know that you mean all the world to me; things will not be the same without you
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