What the Word “Love” Really Means

February. The month dedicated to showing our appreciation to people that we hold near and dear to our hearts and to celebrate all the love in our lives. But it’s not only about valentines and relationships—love is an abstract concept that we’ll never truly grasp. Whether it’s a platonic, familial, or romantic relationship, a specific someone comes into our minds. Here’s something to reflect on: while you read these five blurbs—each highlighting a friend, mom, dad, grandma, aunt, and more—tell someone who you love endlessly the appreciation you have for them.

Lilian Chong – There’s so much ambiguity behind a simple four-letter term like “love.” We commonly use “love” to express our affection for someone or something. We hear it in romantic poems, stories, conversations, movies, on Valentine’s Day; the list is endless. But when I interpret the meaning of love, I imagine a strong sisterhood—women and girls looking after one another and understanding each other. Of the chaotic memories stored in my photo album, this picture of my mom, aunts, and me, standing close together like connected stars in a constellation, reminds me of the unbreakable love we cherish and share. Under a dark, starless night, where the ominous sky resembles Poseidon’s perilous sea, our presence fills the dark setting with power and hope. As sisters, we share the struggles that oppress us and the strengths that empower us. Whenever I’m with my aunts, they feel like my long lost “sisters.” I feel safe to tell them my insecurities as a teenage girl because I know that they will help me overcome them. Despite our age gaps of either niece or aunt, our love and regard for each other are what make us an inseparable sisterhood.

Janell Wang – Love is a concept relating to deep human connections between people. For me, there are many people in my life whom I hold close to my heart. However, if I was to pick one person that encapsulates the word “love,” it would be my mom. She has always been a constant in my life. To me, love is when someone cares about you and is willing to make sacrifices for you. My mom was always the one who would take the time to drive me wherever I needed to go, whether it was going to an after school rehearsal or waking up every morning to take my siblings and me to school. She also cooks for us all the time, which I greatly appreciate. Many types of love exist, such as familial love, love for friends, or romantic love between two people. All these types of love involve having deep affection and a bond for these people. This Valentine’s Day is a celebration for all those whom I hold dear.

Kailani Yamashiro – I think my great grandma or Obaasan embodied the word love. She was always smiling no matter what—even though she had a hard life raising kids in an internment camp. Still, she always smiled. That is the one thing I always remember about her. My memory isn’t that great but from what I can recall, she was extremely friendly towards strangers. Her whole aura was filled with warmness and love. If you ask anyone who knew her, they would agree. Whenever I would see her, she would always say, “My baby,” which just made me burst into a wide smile and forget anything that stressed me out.  I honestly don’t think you can describe love to the fullest since it’s more of a feeling, but I’ll try. Love comes in many forms like a significant other, sibling, parents or grandparents, friends, and even inanimate objects. Love is a bunch of emotions squeezed into one.

Madison Yee – Personally, when I think of the word “love,” my mom is the first person that comes to mind. She has been with me through every step of my life, and I know that I can go to her whenever I am in need of help. I really admire the radiating kindness that she has for everyone she meets—which is one of the main reasons why I strongly aspire to be like her in the future. In fact, some of the best memories I hold are with my mom, which are all filled with happiness and abundance. She truly loves me for who I am and understands everything I say or feel, while always doing everything she can to provide and look out for my sister and me. The appreciation I have for my mom is indescribable, and she is the one who has given me all the support I could ask for, and more—always hoping for me to achieve my dreams. I have learned so much from her, and I truthfully don’t know how she does all that she does for my family. Although there are so many other qualities that make my mom stand out, she is very special to me and I will always love her unconditionally.

Pamina Yung – To me, a factor of love is putting others before yourself and striving to create someone else’s happiness. My dad has always done this for me, sacrificing his time to drive to the store just for one thing I want or staying up late to help me study for my test the next day. My dad resembles my idea of love, as he always considers my interests when doing something for himself, even as little as getting a snack for me. He is the type of person who proves themself through actions over words, and I appreciate and love him for all he does for me, even if I may not see the benefit of it at that moment. He has shown me ultimate kindness and true generosity that is fundamental in love.