Si valetis, valeo

One of the few things I remember from Latin is the classic closing salutation for Roman letters: "If you are well, I am well." I routinely use it to sign off my own correspondence and wait for people to ask me for a translation into English.

I haven't been using it as much lately, though, because it rings false these days. I do still wish my friends well, and am always pleased to receive good news from them, but sometimes their wellness is not enough to secure mine. On occasion I have closed a letter to a close friend with a more honest "Non valeo, sed spero vales."

But while my wellbeing is not so neatly indexed to the fortunes, good or ill, of my friends, it is still strongly linked to them. It is not so much the Wellbeing of those I love, as their simple Being, that buoys me. I love to hear from my friends, whether the news is good or bad. Not, of course, that I am ever glad that anything bad has happened to my friend. But I am glad that they are, and that they are my friends, no matter what happens to them or how they are doing. If the news is bad, I weep and pray for them. If the news is good, I smile and weep and pray for them.

So if I ever write to you and say "Si valetis valeo," know that the contrary is not true. You do not have to be well to be my friend. These days I am especially grateful for friends who do not pressure me to act like I'm okay when I'm not because my distress makes them feel uncomfortable. God bless the people who can say, "I want you to be happy because I love you, but I love you whether you're happy or not."


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