Remember the “I love you more” game you play with your kids or–if you’re freakishly sentimental–with your significant other? You know the game. You try to top each other’s metaphors for the amount of love you feel.
It may start with “I love you.”
“I love you more.”
“I love you the most.”
And then it changes.
“I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything in my life.”
“I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything in this life, the past life, and any future life I may ever have.”
And so it continues to escalate.
My son Max and I used to play it all the time when he was little (he’s 10 now).
One time, he was 6, and it was the first time he spent the weekend away from us. He called me from his grandma’s house, feeling insecure, and missing us. We talked on the phone for about an hour, and a good part of the conversation was saying goodbye in the form of the “I love you more” game.
I said, “I love you to the moon and back.”
“I love you to the moon and stars, and all the way through the sky and back,” said Max.
Now, I’ll spare you the entire conversation, and skip to the good part where he says one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard.
“Mommy, I love you past the moon, the stars, and the sky, all the way until there’s nothing. Then I love all the way past that nothing, and into the next nothing. Then past that nothing, and into the next nothing, until there are no more nothings. I love you past the last nothing.”
I had tears at the corners of my eyes, and I said, “Okay. You win. You love me more.” He laughed and laughed and laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard in his life.
The truth is that he will never know how much I love him. Well, maybe he will when he has kids of his own.
I love these boys past the last nothing.