Missing and MISSINGBy Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
16 December 2020
Main image by Sarah Treanor on streanor.com
One of the (many) difficult things about loss and grieving is that while it makes up an inordinately large portion of my life (and is sometimes all-consuming), it is hard to express, lonely to experience, and frustrating in its unpredictability. I rarely feel understood except by my Grieflings and Widbuds, i.e., people who have had significant losses.
And so it is balm to my soul when someone writes or says something that shows me that they “get it”. That they have sat and wondered, and knitted some stray thoughts together, and imagined and projected and empathised, and then come up with something coherent.
My Medjool has a beautiful way with words. He absorbs and sits with more of what I say than I can at times. He turns things over, and reflects back love, compassion and understanding with exquisite and careful language. He knows that my sadness and losses are not his to carry, even if they do affect him – inevitably. He knows too that my missing and loving of Mike will always be part of our relationship. He even understands that the longer Julia is gone from my life, the harder it is for me to spend time with anyone who has a daughter her age or younger. And that as time goes by, the age range that is hard for me will get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Medjool and I had a lovely time together at the weekend just gone. Fresh snow meant the first cross-country ski of the year up in the Jura. Another day I ran in wet and muddy forests with the dog while Neil walked. We cooked and ate yummy food. Drank nice wine. Lit the fire for coziness and warmth. We even watched a film on Netflix. And of course we lazed around in bed. It felt simple and warm. Enveloping. The kind of weekend, the effects of which, last into the Monday even when you’re no longer in one another’s presence.
On Monday night I had a message from Medjool telling me that even when he misses me he is happy, knowing I am there in his life. And he quickly acknowledged the distinction between missing someone who is alive and nearby, someone who you can see and who makes you feel happy, and missing someone who you cannot see because they are dead, where that missing becomes painful longing.
« Te le sais: même quand je ne te vois pas, savoir que tu es là me rend tellement heureux! Et, en disant cela, je prends conscience que le deuil, c’est notamment lorsque cette présence implicite devient absence explicite et perpétuelle. Et que ce bonheur de chaque instant devient manque douloureux de chaque instant. Présence et absence, bonheur et manque – deux des milles paires de l’amour ».
“You know this: even when I don’t see you, knowing that you are there makes me so happy! And, as I say that, I realise that mourning is what happens when that implicit presence becomes explicit and permanent absence. And that the joy in each moment becomes painful missing in each moment. Presence and absence, happiness and missing – two of the thousand pairs about love”.
Missing and feeling cosy and warm and filled with love vs Missing and feeling empty, hollow, aghast and icy cold.
One missing is nourishing and life-giving. The other missing is crushing and life-depleting.
There should be different words for missing an alive person and missing a dead person. It is simply not the same.
And I am so grateful that Medjool understands this so profoundly.