Sigrún and Helgi meet on the battlefield, as equals. Helgi sees her, covered in blood, sword flashing, wild. Capable. Fiercely beautiful. Theirs is a mutual respect and admiration. He loves her there. As is the way of these tales, the lovers are soon separated by death, as Helgi is killed by Sigrún’s brother Dagr. Before she grieves Helgi, Sigrún exacts revenge on her brother, forcing him to live forever as a as scavenger in the woods. Then she lays her lover in a barrow. Before she succumbs to her sorrow, Helgi returns from Valhalla to spend one more night with her.
They are reincarnated and find each other again. And so it goes, on and on.
Contrast this with Sigyn and Loki. Loki’s wife is faithful, though he is not. She is devoted, which he is not. His deeds cause the death of their son, whose entrails are used to bind the father for eternity. Sigyn, beautiful and loyal, spends that eternity holding a bowl above Loki’s head to protect him from the snake’s poison. She shields him from the consequences of his treachery. He who had brought monsters into the world, monsters that would eventually destroy earth and heaven.
She stays. She stays with him when she could have been free. She stays with him when she learns of Hel and Fenrir and Jörmungandr. She stays. And he takes her for granted, treats her as inconsequential, as nothing. At one point in my life I found Sigyn pathetic. But, having lived a little, I understand her. I imagine a different ending for her, however. One day she sets the bowl aside and leaves Loki on his own.
I’d rather be Sigrún than Sigyn. I’d much rather be a Valkyrie and have my love returned than be treated as an afterthought. Sigyn forgives, and that is admirable, but Sigrún doesn’t have to, because Helgi is by her side. They may be together in the next life, but they were also together in this one. They had the second chance that others are not afforded but they did not wait and hope for the best — they seized their moment and fought for it.
Helgi and Sigrún’s story has that classic, romantic ending to the tragic love story — we will find each other again, love conquers all, we have time. Unfortunately, we have only one life, and it could end at any moment. We do not have time. We will not find each other again. Love conquers nothing.
We are not creatures of myth and will not be handed the luxury of extra lives. When you find love, fucking take it. Own it and make it yours.