Amazing how I had never heard this song. I came across it when I was going through my Facebook account, as the musical background of a video with images from the 80’s TV series The Thorn Birds, based on the bestselling 1977 novel by Colleen McCullough.
Anyone who has watched that series, or read the book, will never forget the most romantic, and tragic, love story between Ralph, a handsome priest, played by Richard Chamberlain, and Meggie, a girl he has known since childhood, now blossomed into a beautiful, irresistible young woman (played by Rachel Ward). Theirs is an ill-fated love, and, maybe because of it, it has an intensity that leaves no one indifferent – least of all a hopeless romantic like me.
Someone put together those passionate images, and the most romantic of songs, “How I love you”, by Engelbert Humperdinck, and I could not avoid it; I just wanted to listen to it over and over again and remember the times when I also loved with all my heart.
Unlike the singer, I cannot say “How I love you”, in the present, but I think of all those who have touched my heart, and the thought comes to my mind – how I loved you, I could say.
Watching those images of love, passion, pain and regret, the images of a great love story, at first, I felt sad. Even if I strongly doubt love will come my way again in this life, I regret that I have not been able to find a long-lasting love, a hand to hold mine for a lifetime or, even if not for so long, at least for the rest of my days. Growing old is hard, but doing it together is certainly less painful. But it was not meant to be. However, I have lived great loves, and watching those images together with the power of the song, all sorts of memories come to my mind: a first look exchanged, endless talks when you open your heart to someone who only a while ago was little less than a stranger; the first slow songs danced together, holding tight; walking hand by hand by the sea, the wind on your face and hair and sunshine in your heart; holding each other after making love, tender lips brushing your hair, while you look at the sky through the ceiling window and listen to a song that seems to tell your story; moments of pain too, of loveless partings, heated arguments, passionate make ups, holding back tears of jealousy and betrayal, finding the courage to realize it has ended; the miracle of discovering you can love again and being held as the most precious thing in the world by the strong arms of the one you love…
Oh yes, I have lived it all; I have loved and been loved, and lived the most tender, and passionate moments, and life even sent me a last wonderful gift when I thought there was nothing else to hope for. Like all the others, that love was not to be, but then again, as before, I can say “How I loved you”. Maybe, in this case, a little more, because, in your mature years, with a lifetime of experience, you hope you won’t make the same mistakes and, after all, to be with someone for the rest of your life is not such a long time.
Apparently, the same mistakes were made, or maybe it was just not to be. Still, as Engelbert Humperdinck sings, the memory of a touch remains even when the one you have loved is not there any longer. That, and all the memories you have built together, and I am fortunate to have many, with each person that I have loved.
So, the next time I watch that most romantic combination of music and images, my heart will break again, gently, so gently, and a lonely tear may fall down my face, but my memories will envelop me. I will send a silent message to those who have shared them with me along my life and say “How I loved you.” And, who knows, maybe a soft breeze will take my words away, and whisper them in their ears. Then, for a moment, they will think of me, and remember how they loved me, too.