No Unfinished Business

by Steven J. Callis

I read that the longest love letter ever written – and the simplest – was in 1875 from a painter named Marcel de Leclure to Magdalene de Villaore.  The letter contained the phrase “jevous aime” 1,875,000 times, or 1000 times the calendar years of the date.

Even more astounding is that he did not write the letter himself, but hired a scribe to do the work.  Let’s not be too quick to judge; he verbally dictated every word to the scribe as the letter was written, and then had the scribe read it back to him verbatim. The phrase, which means “I love you,” was written and spoken collectively 5,625,000 times before it ever reached its intended recipient.

For many people, Valentine’s Day demands creativity; seeking new and unique methods of saying, “I love you.”  While there are differing versions of the true origins of the holiday, I feel certain that it did not begin with the goal of retailers expecting to rack up about $650 million dollars selling food, candy, flowers, and other Valentine’s Day related goods.

On the positive side, this holiday reminds us that expressions of love and affection – both romantic love and friendship – are important in the sustenance of relationships.  The danger, however, is to relegate such expressions only to special occasions, which otherwise become lost in the daily routines of life.

Country music legend Garth Brooks may have been aware of that danger when he thought about his own relationships.  He pondered such questions as these:  “If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?  Did I try in every way to show her every day that she’s my only one?”

In other words, he did not want to risk going to sleep with unfinished or unresolved “business” in his life.  He could not bear to think of withholding words and expressions of affection from those who mean so much to him until it is too late to share them.  Every positive expression of love breathes life into the relationship and sustains it.

Now that the holiday has passed, let’s be more determined and deliberate to make every day Valentine’s Day. “So tell that someone that you love just what you’re thinking of…” (Brooks).

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