(A note to a friend who lost her husband in the past year)
I am suspicious you will have a different kind of Valentines day tomorrow given the events of the past year and all the loves that have moved to different spaces in your life.
Last night I went to a symphony concert. Beethoven. Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. Dead words to label one lilting phrase of music, composed in 1806, that we all recognize in the first few notes. It got me thinking about phrases that reach beyond time and place.
Over two hundred years later, we are listening to the love of Beethoven for violinist, Franz Clement for whom he composed the piece. Oh let’s not rush to examine the mechanics of their relationship. Please all, sit back and just listen as the affection ripples across the violinist’s strings.
“But soft, What light through yonder window breaks…” Yes, Romeo of Juliet, but what moment in Shakespeare’s life gave rise to that intimate knowledge of a lover seeing their beloved? Again it is a phrase reaching out beyond time and place, a rippling echo, that somehow resonates into our present day.
Where do those enduring phrases find their start? What secret resonance blooms into one that is more visible, more directly felt and known? I didn’t not know of Franz Clement before last night and reading of him in the program notes. For years, I’ve paused, looked up when that musical phrase floated by, but I had no idea of its source, its genesis.
Why all this on Valentines Day, and why to you?
Well, because I am suspicious that I’ve been in on the birth of something. I don’t know exactly how it will bloom forth. We, you and I, and all your friends may never be able to trace as direct a path as the one described in those program notes. But I have no doubt that the love you and Joe share, the love you held for Huff and Minnie, the love between you and your mother, it’s all rippling out, resonating across your life, the lives of your lucky friends, into the lives of others you and I will never know. And it is something, I think, a little more than will fit in a Hallmark card.
So maybe not exactly Happy Valentines Day, but surely, for me, a grateful one to know you, to have known you and Joe and the on-going gravitational waves of your combining.