If I were to explain the feelings behind the words “I love you” it might go something like this:
I love you because you have shared intimate parts of your lives with me – some dark places, hard places, and places of great joy as well. In that sharing you have welcomed me into your hearts, and in that, you have moved into mine. You have helped me understand what it means to get old – some of you having feelings of being spent and of lesser value than when you were an active contributor, many dealing with significantly reduced independence, even failing health, and the passage of others that we have loved and respected. At the same time you have taught me about strong spirits, about humor and the ability to laugh, about legacies and about faith wrought in the fire pit of life. You have taught me what it means to be fully human. You have shaped my prayer life and encouraged me as I have held your hands and prayed for you, for those you love, and for both the beautiful and the ordinary things in life, sometimes raising our voices to God in light laughter. I love you because you have embraced me, and permitted my embrace; you have marked my heart with indelible ink. I love you.