Marriage & Life Partners · Relationships & Dating

Valentine’s Day: Learning Love


Being with Ron made it clear that I did not have to choose between men who liked my body and men who liked my intellect.

To celebrate the break, we went into San Francisco to a concert and then stopped for a nightcap.  On and off that year, Ron had been complaining about headaches. He’d gone to the student health service more than once and had been told it was stress.  One day we went by the University of California at San Francisco med center and he tried to see a neurologist, but, of course, college students could not walk in for a neurology workup, and he let it go.

Coming back to my apartment that night, Ron complained that he really didn’t feel well. My roommates had already left for vacation, and I persuaded him to sleep in my room; I would sleep in theirs.  Next morning, Ron didn’t appear. I finally went in to wake him.  It was hard. I steered him into the shower; when he didn’t come out, I realized that something was wrong. I drove him to the University of California San Francisco Hospital ER.  He was diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm.  Over the next—I don’t even remember how many—days, the doctors waited to see if the brain bleed would subside.  Then they packed him in ice. Then they operated. Then we waited and waited to see if he would wake up. His parents came, and it was excruciating to watch them watch their unresponsive son. One afternoon I caught the doctor and asked how long this could on, and if there was no hope, could he deliver Ron’s parents from this torture?  An hour later he came to tell us Ron was dead, age 23, two months from graduation.

How is this a love story?  This was the man who taught me what grownup love could look like.  This was the man who said, “I want to make love to you, but we are not going to do this until you are comfortable enough to go to Planned Parenthood and get contraceptives.”  He taught me to look behind labels and see a whole person.  He showed me that real men can iron and can work hard and then play with joy. He helped me inhabit my whole self.  He made me feel beautiful inside and out.  Being with Ron made it clear that I did not have to choose between men who liked my body and men who liked my intellect.

His death gave resilience specific meaning.  It made me not fear death and want to embrace life.  It made me ready for the man I later married, a man I think that would have been good friends with Ron.


More from our Valentine’s Day Series

The Power of Young Love

8210336869_bab7e4a4cd_zBy Judie Rae
Richard’s math class was the hour before mine; we shared the same room as well as the same instructor. One Valentine’s Day I found a note in my locker directing me to look out the window of the math class, where I would find my Valentine gift.

An October Valentine

6877886245_3a0e1f2a15_zBy Sylvia Metzler
I always suspected that Fred’s father thought we were too young and too serious, since we had made plans to marry and depart for Africa as missionaries as soon as we grew up.

Valentine’s Day: An Intense and Tender Connection

Grace and Richie at a local dance.By Grace Graupe-Pillard
First love is the most magical, deliciously exquisite, and seductive period of one’s life, when the world actually becomes luminous without the need of the sun or the moon.


Sex Every Day at 60

By Women’s Voices for Change4073085337_1b3bdc4335_z
I gave my husband a very unusual Valentine’s Day gift last year. I gave him . . . sex every day for a month.


Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Shirley February 11, 2016 at 7:41 am

    You were so lucky to have found Ron for your first love. He was a wise man at a young age. I am so sorry that he died young.