By my heart's not really into epic love today. Instead, I find myself thinking on a different level about love and companionship, and what these two words mean in the broader context of our lives.
In my second home of Costa Rica, Valentine's Day is not celebrated in quite the same way as in the U.S. Ticos call February 14th Dia de la Amistad, or "Day of Friendship". They use it to celebrate friendship in all its manifestations, including romantic friendship, but certainly not limited to that.
Friendship plays a fundamental role in our stories just as it does in our lives. I don't remember who my favorite character was back when I first read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. But when Peter Jackson released his film interpretation of this timeless story, there was no doubt in my mind as to who took the number-one spot in my heart: From the first film to the last, my favorite character was Samwise Gamgee.
For me, Sam represented, and still represents, an archetype of friendship. His humble, steadfast dedication to Frodo as a person (not as hero, and not as Ringbearer), his courage and ability to keep his head together while the world was falling apart, and his simple insistence on always being there, are qualities that I not only admire, but that I hope to find in my own friends, and to give to those who consider me a friend.
Those of you who are connected to Hadley Rille Books through other channels know by now that a week ago our editor-in-chief, Eric T. Reynolds, suffered a stroke and is looking toward a long road to recovery. This has been a difficult time for the Hadley Rille family because Eric, more than our editor, has been a good friend to every one of us.
Sometimes I've envisioned Eric as the Sam to our quests as authors; keeping utmost calm even as we start caressing our manuscripts with crazed looks in our eyes and muttering, "My preciouuusssss..." Eric would travel with any of us through Mordor, fight off the giant spiders, and carry us on his back up Mount Doom if we asked him to, even if all the while all he really wanted to do was return home to the Shire.
As the Hadley Rille family has come to terms with the grief and pain of Eric's illness, I have found much solace, and even cause for quiet celebration, in the reaffirmation of the bonds of friendship that bind us not only to Eric, but to each other. None of us are walking alone on this path, and the support that the Hadley Rille community has shown toward each other and toward Eric's family is nothing short of admirable.
While this Valentine's Day will not be the happiest I've experienced, I know I will celebrate it with a deeper appreciation of the meaning of friendship in our lives. I invite you to do the same. Maybe this week on Heroines of Fantasy we can talk about our favorite stories of friendship, in fiction and in life. Please share yours in the comments below, and help make this Valentine's Day a true Dia de la Amistad for everyone.
-posted by Karin Rita Gastreich