Don’t forget to say ‘I love you’

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

Fifty-eight people were gunned down on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas during a music festival as country singer Jason Aldean performed. The gunman pointed his rifles through two 32nd-floor windows of the Mandalay Bay hotel gunning down innocent mother, fathers, sons and daughters. This was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Many of the victims’ last words were “I love you.” Jack Beaton, 54 from Bakersfield, Calif., shielded his wife’s body with his own when the barrages of gunfire began. He was shot, but he was able to tell his wife that he loved her one last time as he bled out. Beaton and his wife were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary.

We can never say “I love you” too many times. Simple and innocent acts like getting on the highway or, in this case, going to a concert, can end in unthinkable tragedies. We should hold our relationships, both familial and intimate, above everything else because in this world, life is but a whisper.

Go above and beyond to show someone you care. Surprise your parents with a visit home. Make people smile more than you make people frown. And say “I love you” so much you don’t even think about it; let those three words fly out of your mouth and into someone else’s heart.

We need to collectively think about how we express and share love. October is domestic violence awareness month and one of their largest campaign slogans is “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.” Love should be uplifting and liberating and not contorted with violence and manipulation.

As human beings, we have an overwhelming desire to be loved and cared for. It’s in our nature, and we crave nurturing from the day we’re born. Austrian-American psychoanalyst Rena A. Spitz studied the detrimental effects of social deprivation of infants in an orphanage during the 1940s. Infants who lacked constant affection and attention performed badly in cognitive tests compared to infants who received adequate amounts.

Interaction and physical contact are one of the several ways love can be expressed. Although money can’t buy love, we can use money to gift the people we love and to spend quality time with them. Michael Norton, professor of business administration at Harvard University, said, during his TedTalk in November 2011 called “How to buy happiness,” that it doesn’t matter how much money you spend as long as you spend it on somebody else.

Instead of spending your money on yourself, take a sibling to the movies or buy your mom the gift she is always talking herself out of getting. Lavish the people you love with gifts or experiences.

Beyond money and physical contact, love is honesty, kind and simple. Admitting love is the greatest kindness you can give to someone. There are so many ways to say I love you, but the most profound is vocalizing that powerful feeling. There is no time like the present to say, “I love you.”

With Facetime, Apple watches and simple phone calls, it is so easy to say I love you. In the 21st century, we do not have the hurdles of unreliable communication and distance to jump over.

Life is precious and gone in an instant. Never in life do you want to think, “If only I had one more chance,” or “If only I had said.”

Horrific tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting bring clarity to our own relationships with the world and with others. We have the time to reflect on how we treat others and how we love. It is always important to remember, no matter what is going on in this world, to love endlessly and to say “I love you” often.