Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An Unexpected Response to, "I Love You"

When you listen to the words of 4-year-old Rayna Lopez, you can instantly tell that her brain is older than her given age.  She can count to 100 and can spell a multiple amount of words.  She’s wild and rambunctious, but caring and observant.  Her goofiness comes from her dad, and her creativity is the product of mother.  Rayna has a resume filled with an endless amount of silly faces and she already has a plan for what she wants to do when she grows up.  Claiming on of the noblest of paths, she confidently states, “I just want to make people laugh!”

This 4-year-old has strong opinions of her own…and she’s never shy about letting them be known.  When she found out she was going to be a big sister last year, she instantly wanted a sister – not a brother!  When asking her what would happen if she got a baby brother, she would bluntly state, “We’ll just send him back!!”  With a plan in mind she continues, “We’ll send him back to someone who wants a baby brother.”  (Don’t worry - her wish came true!  She now has a sister, Erica!)

Rayna, unknowingly, has a way of encouraging others – even in life’s most simplistic moments.   Asking her who her best friend is, her ocean-blue eyes light up and meet my gaze by saying, “You!  You’re my best friend!!”  When asked why that is, her answer is the most beautiful of them all, “Because I love you!!”…And what’s not encouraging about that?

In the 4 years I’ve known Rayna, I’ve learned more from her than I ever expected or thought possible.  For example, right before she turned 4-years-old, I leaned over to her and whispered in her eager small ear and told her, “I love you!”  With a shy yet understanding smile, she gently responded, “I know.”

Often when we tell others, “I love you”, we await the typical response of, “I love you too”…Not Rayna’s two worded answer of, “I know.”

Although her response wasn’t the typical reply that is expected, in that moment, those two words meant more to me more than I can fully express.  Hearing her respond with “I know”, I realized by those two words combined together that I must be doing something right.  Not every child in the world knows or realizes they are loved, but by the age of 3, it was clear that Rayna has recognized my love for her early on.  Whether it’s through my actions or words (or both), she gets the full message that she’s a special person in my life.  Just knowing that she knows and understands the love that I have for her means so more than simply hearing the usual reply of, “I love you too.”

Rayna has brought more laughter to my life than any other single person I’ve ever met in my 23 years of living.  She’s a blessing that was brought into my life at the perfect moment.  This brilliant child constantly brings an endless amount of joy through both the good times and the bad.   During a rough time in my life when my heart was completely shattered and broken, causing me to feel as though I’d never be whole again, she healed my heart in remarkable ways in which no one else has ever had the power to do.

Her childlike perception helps see me see the world in a extraordinary, beautiful, yet often forgotten, perspective. She’s an irreplaceable and extraordinary girl and when I grow up…I hope to be just like her.

And although she’s only 4, she’s my best friend – because I love her.  (And I'm not afraid to say it!)

The Travelin' Chick and Rayna's Cousin,