As someone trying to live with more compassion, I love the idea of making the first thing I do when I see a loved one be to have my eyes light up.
It reminds me of my last 4 years with my dad, after his diagnosis with liposarcoma. Growing up, my mom and I would talk. My dad would listen when need be. But, I rarely said I love you to either of them, and when I left for college I rarely called my dad. Despite this, my dad’s voice was full of pride every time my mom passed him the phone. And every time he saw me he made sure I knew how much he loved me–even before his battle with cancer. Having to face the fear that I could lose my dad, I made an effort in college to alternate which of my parents I called. I added on, “I love you,” because it was true and because I didn’t know how many time I had left to say it. And we never know how much time we have left to express our love.
While my dad passed away at 62, my friend Shruti died 3 days after graduating UCLA at the age of 22. What I remember most about her was how fully she loved everyone. Every time she opened her door, she was smiling. When she hugged, they were full of warmth and sincerity. (And, she liked an scoop of sugar in her smoothies.) She embodied what Toni Morrison says. Her eyes–and her heart and her spirit–lit up whenever she say me or any of her friends.
It is in her memory that I hope to learn to do that for all of my friends. And, it is in memory of my father that I hope to do so for my family and my future children.