I may have said I love you, once, maybe twice, in our entire three years together.
Near the end, because he started to feel like family, I would say “love you, bye!” You know, like when you hang up the phone, or leave their place, with that familiar bounce in your step.
Sometimes he would say matter of fact, “It’s cuz you love me” or he would ask gently “You love me?” My response was always, “Always”.
I would always love him, I knew that. But at the time, responding with I love you, or starting with it, was so big, so real, it was really vulnerable. If I were to ever say it, I had to pause at every word, I, Love, You. Heavy. Fear. Much. Maybe weak. Couldn’t say it.
I did love him. I’ll always love him. We both felt it.
And now, after all this time, I can tell him I love you, and mean it as a friend. I am so thankful for this version of peace and love that I feel today.