"I know what you are feeling seems like the loneliest and most eviscerating thing in the world," I said, "But if it weren't for the pain that accompanies love and the loss of it we wouldn't have most of the poetry, books, music, films and art that have made the world a more tender and enlightened place. You think no one has ever felt like you do, but look around."
We began with Edna St. Vincent Millay and later pondered Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam":
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Long after she had become a poet herself, winning prizes at Duke University with her work I think about that line of Tennyson's and it still strikes me as the most profound and universal truth.
When you love someone, if it is true, you have given them a great gift and whether they were worthy of it or not it was given. More importantly, you had the courage to relinquish all sense of self preservation and leap.
Love is its own country, and to become a citizen of it your passport is a willingness to move. The landscape of love is never certain and your surefooted passage is not guaranteed. You are a refugee from a place filled with plans and dreams for yourself and you cross over into a territory where your heart is your only compass.
When you love there are no assurances, no warranties, no transport back to where you were before. Whether your love was returned or not you are changed and that old passport doesn't resemble you anymore.
It is always better to love. Love will thrill you and comfort you and put you in such a place of exquisite pain you can only long for it again. It makes you tender and breaks your heart wide open. It is the closest we can come to God.
I have loved many people and been hurt by many of them to some degree. Only the people you love know how to hurt you best. I have loved people who were incapable of loving me back and I still think of them with tenderness.
I have never forgotten anyone who loved me.
Love makes you vulnerable and incredibly powerful with an inexplicable alchemy to it that is more magic than science. It never has to announce itself, but is revealed in every silent sacrifice.
One of the greatest compliments I have ever been given was when I was told that a relative had put me down as his emergency contact when he went abroad. His wife confided he chose me because "if something happens to me Bridget will not wait for word, she would be on a plane in a second."
And I would. I would split the world apart to find him, them, any of them. Real love makes you powerless to be anything but powerful.
On this Valentines Day I hope you'll celebrate the loves you have known, those you kept and those who left you. Exalt in the fact that you have such a heart that expanded, broke and still beats to the one emotion that transcends time and place and reason.
Your heart is art. It is Kintsugi, made more beautiful in the breaking and the mend.