How to Say “I Love You” (Without Saying Anything at All)

IMG_7856On my parents’ twenty-fourth anniversary this July, my dad surprised my mom with flowers. It was a small arrangement of baby’s breath, delphinium, and a peach rose.

“It was the closest thing they had to our colors,” he said. “Plus, I thought the blue thing was kind of cool and different.”

My mom’s wedding bouquet was made of peach roses and baby’s breath, and her bridesmaid’s dresses were royal blue.

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My freshman year of college, we unexpectedly lost our cat Roland to bad kidneys. He was the young one, the snuggler, and a week before my birthday he was gone. We’d had Whiskers for almost sixteen years at that point, and she was a sassy old woman. I could count on one hand the times she’d stayed on my lap after I’d put here there, but not how many times she’d scratched me for annoying her and invading her space.

The night after Roland died, she curled up on my lap, unsolicited, and slept with me.

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“Don’t forget to pack extra underwear.”

“Did you remember your sunscreen?”

“Make sure to watch out for other drivers!”

“I’ll take my cell phone up to bed.”

“Do you want me to leave the door unlocked?”

“Do you have your wallet?”

“Be safe.”

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Boyfriend came back a couple weeks early from Iowa to be home when I had gum surgery.

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In high school, my best friend and I were essentially inseparable. We were involved in a lot of the same extracurriculars — theatre, marching band, orchestra, yearbook — so our other friends called us “Yin and Yang.” We had rarely spent more than a day apart when it came time to graduate, but she was leaving on a family vacation to China for most of the summer. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do because I’d become so used to our constant connection.

We made laminated cutouts of each other to take along during our summer journeys apart, and it was a way to be together even though we were, quite literally, halfway around the world from each other. When I went on my study abroad to Italy a couple of years later, we resurrected Mini Katlyn and Mini Jessica for a new round of summer adventures. I hope it’s something we continue to do whenever we find ourselves separated.

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I wasn’t looking for a relationship when I first met Boyfriend. I liked him a lot, though. I waited a few weeks after we met for him to send me the coveted Facebook friend request, but I got impatient and finally sent one myself. After he accepted, we talked every so often about pretty topical stuff like favorite movies, favorite foods, our goals after college… all the basic getting-to-know-you stuff. We hadn’t spoken in a while, and one week I didn’t write a blog post.

“You didn’t write your blog, Katlyn.”

At this point, I was still pretty confident that the only people who consistently read my blog were my mom and a few loyal friends.

“I read it every week! I think it’s interesting.”

I liked Boyfriend the first time I saw him (you know, when he dropped me out of a tree), but that was the first moment that showed me how much he liked me. He paid attention to the words I was writing. And he wanted to read more.

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I adopted my cat Tigger just about a year and a half ago. When I brought him home, he was a little skittish and wouldn’t stick around to let me pet him for too long. I was disappointed because I was long overdue for some fuzzy snuggles since losing Roland and Whiskers within six months of each other, but I didn’t want to force him to show me affection before he was ready. After brief introductions with grandma and grandpa (read: my mom and dad), I let him be to do his own thing and get familiar with the house.

My parents and I really enjoy Family Feud, so we were watching an episode together before heading off to bed. I was curled up in a fuzzy blanket because it was that in-between season part of April where the days are sunny and warm but the evenings are still a little chilly. Because he was so little (and still is because I’ve mastered the art of adequate feeding rather than overfeeding), I didn’t know Tigger was in the room too until he jumped up on the couch and curled up against my legs.

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 “Man I miss you.”

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Tigger and I are normally sleeping buddies, but on the weekends I spend a lot of time at Boyfriend’s. The first thing he does whenever I get home Sunday night is curl up on my lap and wait for me to scratch behind his ears.

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Two days after coming home from Iowa, Boyfriend left on a camping trip to Isle Royale. He’ll be totally without phone reception, and it feels like I just got him back to have to say goodbye again. Luckily, my surgery didn’t knock me on my butt like I thought it would, but it was still tough to say goodbye early Friday morning and know I wouldn’t talk to him until Wednesday.

He texted me around lunch time, asking if I would be home that afternoon, which I would be because I was without a car and still tired from the anesthetic. There was a knock on the door just before one, and I reluctantly got up and went to the door, thinking it was a telemarketer.

Boyfriend sent me my first big-girl flowers, and he paid attention all the times when I said irises and lilies were two of my favorites.

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I often forget the many ways I hear “I love you” every day, even if I don’t hear that specific combination of words. Love is a verb, and is in the actions you perform every day to show that you care about the people who are closest to you. Sometimes you just have to listen a little closer to hear what those actions are trying to say.

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