On February fourteenth 2011 I was proposed to. A banner day on a banner day. The proposal of marriage, an antidote to having been scathed by divorce and the disarming event of looking for love in the cyber age.
He held my eyes with his, his speckled brown’s looking lucid.
He locked his look into mine. Steading his ambly gait, he pulled up the slipping strap of his denim coveralls and asked,“Will you marry me?’ He peered intently. My response his mirror.
Looking like ET, he just stared at me. I from a realm alien to him.
I looked to his button eyes, holding his fate with my response. This moment somehow altering my destiny. “Why I believe you are the best offer I’ve had in years.” He handed me the plastic heart shaped ring that had minutes before embellished the holiday cupcake. He had sucked the gooey pink frosting off to clean sparkly trinket. I held the too small ring to my heart. We were sealed.
He knew in that moment that in spite of his age (11), diagnoses, frequent hospitalizations, and the contemporty art wiring of his brain love prevailed. He was loved and loveable. Most important was his tin man heart. He could love. He did love.
Bursting from him that Valentine Day, (not Cupid’s arrow, or the muse Venus) was the sweet beat of his own heart, palpitating for others. He knew that in spite of being erratically compelled by demonic thoughts and behaviors, light and love dwelled in his heart. (Perhaps he could grow it bigger and bigger till it reigned and edged out the darkness.) .
And me, I the tin man as well. I feared I had a hollow heart. I can get stuck on the love channel, that staticy place that whines about others failures. I stockpile till my heart becomes heavy. The silent phone, the empty email in-box my mirrors, measurement of my worth.
But in my years of teaching on that day of love the kids always got it. Children too young, to harden up their heart and stockpile their hurts became love’s gurus. With every candy heart, every block print uppercased “ I LOVE YOU”, they practiced love like sacrament.
They loved unabashedly, expressively, and expansively. Little fingers stuffing cards in envelopes, doilies, and glitter melty hearts, mushy chocolate. The greatest commandment of all “Is love”…. So my plastic bauble will forever sit among my gilded treasures.
On Valentines Day my betrothed and all the students I ever had “got it”. They lived on the love channel and sprinkled love about like an ever-flowing font, not seeking anything in return but just the right to say, “I love you”.
As brown-eyed boy (Mr. Coveralls) handed me his most prized possession, asked me to marry him, and told me he loved me, my teacher brain briefly took over. But who am I to bolt the door to hope. I said simply “ I love you too”. (and always shall as you gave me the lesson in love, and you young man were the teacher of that curriculum.)