Carol Lombard and Clark Gable: Lombard was killed in 1942 in a plane crash, leading the grief-stricken Gable to join the army. He would go on to wear the diamond earring they found at the crash site on a necklace. He chose to be interred next to her at Forest Lawn cemetery.
Last year at this time as we approached Valentine’s Day, I wrote about the power of love. A power I concede could never be properly honored by a commercialized day.
However, after a year that showed me not only the preciousness of life, but the power of love, I am thankful that we have a date on our calendar where we are reminded to think of others before ourselves.
“The Morning of St. Valentine” painted in 1865 by John Callcott Horsley.
By the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in all of France and England. Although his origins are rooted in romanticized myth, my favorite twist of the tale casts him as a brave hero who helps Christians escape Roman prisons prior to being imprisoned himself. Falling in love with the jailer’s daughter while imprisoned reminds him that love is larger than the bars that shut it in.
Before his execution, he writes a love letter to the jailer’s daughter, signing it, “From your Valentine.”
Michael C. Browning, the brother of my father and a voice in the journalism world longed missed.
My uncle, journalist Michael C. Browning, wrote of love’s great power in his article “Into the Gentle Night” published in the Palm Beach Post.
“I thought of a Latin inscription seen on many 19th-century tombs, Fortis Ut Mors Dilectio, “Love, Strong as Death.” No truer words were ever graven on stone: Death is powerful. Death will not be denied. But love is just as powerful as death. It is the only thing on Earth that is.”
A lot of people see Valentine’s Day as a tainted, capitalist ploy; tempting and tricking us into spending more money. “Love should be celebrated everyday,” they say. “Why don’t we show our love without the “Hallmark Holiday”, forced flowers, and cheesy cards?” they ask.
And, they’re right.
We should do all of those things, but just because we should does not mean we are.
Sometimes it takes a reminder for us to realize what we should have been doing all along: rather that reminder be a cellophane-wrapped box of candy or the death of an uncle you regret not knowing better. So, I do not mind that we have a day set to remind us because the greater tragedy would be to forget.
I pray we love like Christ loves…with a love strong as death. Whether it is on Valentine’s Day or not, serve your loved ones something special… and sign it, “From Your Valentine.”