This is the week we celebrate love.
Eros, one of the Greek philosophers’ five kinds of love, takes center stage and gets all the attention with the heart-shaped boxes of See’s Candies and the roses and the jewelry. For half of us, that’s a lot of pressure, and twice I’ve been burned by florists. One that delivered the wrong thing, a cute little teddy bear holding a mug of carnations instead of the oh-my-God-your-husband-is-better-than-my-husband bouquet of two dozen long-stemmed red roses I had ordered, and one that delivered nothing at all, making me, at least temporarily, look like the world’s worst.
If you cry at every wedding, check out lovestoriestv.com and pull up the Oklahoma stories. You’ll meet Edmond’s Slade and Danielle Scott and get to see scenes from the wedding of UCO grad Tiffany Fletcher and Kassidy Legako. That one will get you for sure. Here’s Kassidy writing to Tiffany: “I’ve got one thing going for me, and that’s love. Endless amounts of love for you. Love that I will show you every second of every day for the rest of my life. Monday morning? Boom. Love. A Jim and Pam, Sleepless In Seattle, Ana and Christian kind of endless fairy tale love.”
Thanks to children who demand to be included, funny little Valentines get distributed to all their classmates along with those awful chalky hearts that say things like Be Mine and Cutie Pie. Necco went out of business in 2018, but Sweethearts are making a slow comeback; an Ohio company bought the equipment, and they should be back by the bagful next year. Classroom Valentines. That’s what the Greeks called philia, the friendship sort of love.
The Greeks also identified storge, familial love, the love between parents and children. You can see how one thing leads to another. Saint Valentine was a Christian martyr with no particular love story until Chaucer invented one centuries later, so why not celebrate all kinds of love? We’re faking it anyway.
This year is harder than most. It’s my age, I know. I realized a few years ago that friends used to ask me to speak at their weddings and bar mitzvahs but these days it’s all retirement ceremonies and funerals. This year there’s just too many of the latter.
Les lost his sister in December and his friend Dickie in January. Savannah lost her mother in December. My wife lost her father just a year ago. Mark’s wife passed away on Monday. Robin’s brother, Stefan’s sister, Richard’s brother — all in the last few months.
And now we’ve all lost Yuridia and Rachel, high schoolers out for a run, one the daughter of a law enforcement officer who works with my wife, and it’s too close to home. It’s the kind of story, the sort of sadness that makes every parent empathetic because none of us can imagine anything worse. We want to spread our arms, envelope our children and hold them. We want to hold them to protect them and to protect ourselves from their loss.
We want to hate the man accused in their deaths, but our loathing is tempered as we learn his own son was killed the day before.
The helplessness is too much to bear. We just want it to stop, at least to slow down, because what is so painful when they’re gone is that there’s nowhere for that love to go anymore.
© Ted Streuli 2020