A deeper type of love

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Last week the country marked another Valentine’s Day, a reminder I haven’t had a traditional “Valentine” since my fiancée and I broke up in 2012.

To be honest, he broke up with me, after I had paid for some pretty expensive tickets to see the Orioles play a home game at Camden Yards as his birthday present. As I recall, he enjoyed himself immensely, allowed me to buy him a crab dinner at the Inner Harbor, and then on the way home north on I-95 he casually mentioned that he thought we should “take a break.”

That break ended with him refusing to answer any of my phone calls, or explaining why he had unceremoniously ghosted me (before that was a term). He did, however, graciously accept his engagement ring back, the one with the “flawless” albeit microscopic diamond.

While I haven’t been part of a couple that could have made it on Noah’s Ark, I have celebrated Valentine’s Day in many ways that are significantly more important than the forced pink-and-white-and-red stereotype that lines the pockets of Hallmark shareholders.

The holiday remains a wonderful opportunity to think about the connections we have with those who make our life more bearable. I have had so many in my life, from my family and friends, to old co-workers, to mentors and teachers, and even people I never had an opportunity to meet in person, but who touched me in unexpected ways.

One of them is a gentleman who passed away quite suddenly this month named John Cecil Price. John was a musician, a philosopher, a humanitarian, a deeply good man and someone who saw beyond color and gender to the best essence of everyone he encountered.

We only knew each other on “X, formerly known as Twitter,” but his daily commentaries and humorous observations made me wish we had grown up together, or at least shared a neighborhood.

In a sense we did inhabit the same block, filled with ideas instead of buildings, and I was all the richer for it. He will be missed by those of us who don’t need daily conversation and physical contact to create important relationships.

Another one of my “Valentines” is my client “Caridad,” who just recently obtained her green card. I will not narrate the details of what she went through to get to that point, a journey marked by emotional and physical challenges very few Americans can imagine.

Her story is her own, and I am just a bit player in the drama. But our lives intersected at the moment she decided to control her own future and abandon the country that neither nurtured nor protected her from untold abuse.

Yet another “Valentine” is the friend who, although no longer living a few streets away in Philadelphia, makes sure to reach out every week to either say hello, or make a coffee date when she comes back down from her new home in New York.

This may seem like a very simple and mundane thing, a hallmark of even a casual friendship, but it is much more than that.

Each of us can descend into loneliness, not the kind that kills or requires medication, not the kind that is written about in treatises or forms the core of great poetry, but the distinct moments in our days where we look around and wonder if anyone is listening.

It used to be called longing, or melancholy, and even in this fast-paced life that so many of us are leading, it creeps in and causes a dull but not insignificant pain. And that friend understands, and is there to say “I’m listening.”

I have a love for her that no card or chocolate could accurately reflect.

Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday, one whose scents and flavors and late winter colors brings delight to those fortunate enough to have found — at least for a weekend — what the Italians call “anima gemella,” or twinned spirit.

It is a frothy bubble, insubstantial but lovely while it lasts.

But the real Valentines are the ones who make an imprint on our hearts, imprints that might be as lasting as the stone carvings on the walls of pyramids, or as fleeting as the images drawn on frosted windows.

They have very little to do with romance, and everything to do with love.

I just wish I’d known that before wasting all that money on an Orioles game.

Copyright 2024 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].

Christine Flowers is a Philadelphian who loves the Eagles but can leave the cheesesteaks. She writes about anything that will likely annoy the majority of people, and in her spare time practices immigration law (which is bound to annoy at least some people.)