I'm not quite half way through the book yet, so whatever I say at this point will be modest. However, there is a line in one of the sad chapters that touched me: Margaret tells Enrique, "I love you so much. I love you so much."
What an amazing modification.
In my present early years with Laura, my "I love yous" come abundantly, and each one searches for some way to top the one that came before it, sometimes failing. It's a tough exercise in creativity, actually. I expect the torrent to continue indefinitely for the foreseeable future. At the very least, their scarcity would be conspicuous.
But with the neverending "I love yous" comes a worry that the words threaten to become habitual, and perhaps eventually even hollow. This possibility terrifies me. And so each one is spoken self-consciously. If the words ever escape my mouth unthinkingly, I scramble to find a way to rescue them from banality. If the words are ever a mere echo of the past, they must be filled with novel, present-moment sentiment. That sometimes takes effort, but it is a pleasure, especially when it brings Laura a smile.
Margaret's words, "I love you so much," affected me in three ways.
First, she is topping her husband's preceding "I love yous," not competitively, but appreciatively and complementarily. With her words she acknowledges and reveals her awareness that her husband's "I love yous" are sincere without embellishment, and that she is absorbing them.
Second, Margaret's words reveal to Enrique a fresh sincerity in her love. In the novel, he is insecure, and he has not been adequately attentive to, or trusting of the fact of Margaret's adoration. With the tiny modification, "so", Margaret in her dying dispels decades of insecurity. In its simplicity and innocence, "I love you so much" is a child's verbal squeeze of affection.
Third, the word "so" always indicates something new and fresh. Maybe the word "so" is excused from ever being over-used. It's a constant renewal. "The grass is so green". "The mountains are so beautiful." "The day is so nice." The tiny word does a lot of heavy lifting, carrying so much weight as a banner of immediate, present-moment character.
And so, if I sometimes neglect to adequately embellish my "I love yous", I have, for the time being, a fallback
I love you so much.