My mother packed roughly 2,340 lunches for me from kindergarten up through high school. Even though I desperately wanted to order from the school cafeteria, mom said her lunches were cheaper, healthier and, most importantly, packed with love — literally! Every day, tucked between my sandwich and juice box, was a little handwritten love note she snuck inside. Sometimes she’d write, “I love you” or “Have a great day,” whereas other notes — especially as I got older — were more specific, wishing me luck on a big exam or audition or cross-country meet I had later. Her messages were always upbeat and inspirational, and though I may not have appreciated it at the time, her words played a powerful role in my mood and how I felt about myself. Without even realizing it, her tiny love note had a profound effect on my day.
Years later I noticed that what I once took for granted I missed dearly. My mother’s words of encouragement made me feel invincible, strong, and compassionate. But without her love notes, I didn’t have the same daily pick-me-up of self-confidence as I did before. I began searching for a way to replicate those emotions. I asked myself how she knew her daily affirmations would affect me the way they did? Why did she continue to write a new message for me every day over 13 years? What was she getting out of it? And that’s when I realized her notes just weren’t solely for me — they were for her as well. Sharing affection made her feel the same way I did receiving it — that’s the power of the note.
Determined to continuously revel in the wisdom of my mother, my life is now filled with notes once again. Whenever I can, I slip little love letters into my son’s lunchbox. Having just started school at the age of 4, I figured these notes were going unnoticed by him — but I couldn’t have been more wrong. While brushing his teeth for bed one evening I noticed he kept each of my messages lined up against his mirror, making him feel strong, confident and loved just as my mother’s did so many years ago.
My husband also celebrates the power of the note. When either of us travels for work we stow away love letters in the other’s suitcase so we never feel lonely while away. And when back, a cleverly placed “Welcome home!” always makes the other feel appreciated and loved.
You can never tell someone you love them too much or too often — but you can be too late. In light of the recent tragedies in Nepal, Baltimore, and other places around the world where, for many, that opportunity is perhaps now gone, remember to not take love for granted. Instead take a page from the book of my mom and share the power of the note with someone you love today.