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Hearts Grow Fonder?

"Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine."
-Leonard Cohen 

Do you ever miss someone?

That's probably a fairly silly question, as most of us -- at some point or another -- tend to miss people we know. Sometimes the separation between us is death, or distance, or simply time. With death, we know we will never see the person again (unless you choose to believe in an afterlife and a sort of spiritual reunion). With distance, there can be the occasional get-together, but it is rarely satisfying on a permanent level. Separations by time (waiting for the work-day to pass) are much easier to bear.

Of course, there is another reason to miss someone, to have their absence stand out in a peculiar fashion. That reason is the rift. This one hurts perhaps only less than death as a reason, though maybe even a bit more. There's something pervasively sad about a human relationship halted in its tracks due to emotional dysfunction. The person -- the potential --  is there, but pride or arrogance or shame or guilt or anger or fear keeps us from them. Sometimes it is a two-way street, other times it is painfully one-sided. Regardless, the sting of personal failure runs deep.

When it comes to distance, probably the person I miss most is Kelvin. We became friends while he lived here in Champaign-Urbana, and he managed to introduce me to a lot of new things. We hung out a lot, and still keep in touch since he moved to St. Louis, but it's not the same, of course. Lacking a steadfast buddy is something one never quite gets over.

In death, we lose someone's companionship forever. The other day I was going through a list of friends on Facebook, deciding who to invite to my birthday party next week, and was reminded of some deceased friends whose profiles are still archived online. The one with the most impact, that hit almost like a punch to the chest, was Jared's. Dead for over a year now, taken by cancer at age 36, I stared in brief disbelief at his picture, thinking, 'You really shouldn't be dead.' Of course, that doesn't change the fact that he is.

Time is probably the easiest barrier to deal with. Whether it be for a day or a week, knowing for certain that we will be reunited with someone important to us is perhaps one of the more comforting notions we can experience. When it comes to distance, it isn't always known when we'll see a person next. Death answers that question firmly and negatively. And rifts.... well, they're complicated.

Encapsulated within the emotional state of missing someone is often the unspoken desire for a reciprocal sentiment. It's part of the same concept which posits the notion that 'I love you' is a question, not a statement. Missing someone can indeed be genuine, but it feels more whole if you know the other person misses you. Alas, this is not always the case, and is a reality that is sometimes difficult to accept. Sometimes, absence makes the heart grower colder, not fonder.

Ultimately, it is best to cherish those close to us, both in heart and in proximity. It is okay to miss those who are no longer around, but don't let their lack of presence ruin the enjoyment of others who are available and willing to be a part of one's life. Unfortunately, that is sometimes easier said than done.


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