Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone

I don’t want to get up from the cozy couch I’ve melted into, but a writer’s work does not pause for personal tragedies. Noticing the late hour, I set down my empty wine glass and pry myself up, making my way around the circle to say my goodbyes. My body feels as heavy as my heart.

As I close the front door to the apartment building and step out into the warm July night, I stop for a moment and enjoy the sounds of the little gathering I’ve just left. There’s small talk, the clanking of food and drink glasses, and even laughter. It sounds nice. You’d never guess the reason we were in that room together was to help someone cope with having to say goodbye to someone much too soon.

I put the keys in the ignition and drive home, Lana Del Rey’s voice piercing the silence….

....I just wanted you to know, that baby you’re the best… I’ve got that summertime, summertime sadness…..

It’s not fair, I think to myself. He’s 27 years old. Fuck you, cancer.

I cautiously pull into our too-tight garage and park the car, cutting off Lana’s lyrics. I take the elevator to the fifth floor, open my door and fall into Mr. W’s arms. He doesn’t say a word, he just holds me tight until he senses it’s safe to let go. He kisses my forehead and my lips before heading to bed while I sit down to do the late night work I’ve grown accustomed to.

I write until my eyes get too bleary to see and crawl into bed so I can pass out before the dawn breaks. And as I try to rest, one thought slips into my mind and makes its home there for the rest of the summer where it remains through every day, every experience, and all my travels:

There are so many ways to miss someone.

You can miss someone who is sitting right in front of you simply by having the knowledge that, barring a miracle, they will not be sitting in front of you a year from now. The mourning starts before the person dies because you miss more than the person themself. You miss the memories you would have made together, that you deserved to make together. You miss the milestones in life you should have reached together. You miss seeing what kind of old person they’ll be and how they’ll be around your kids, or you'll miss the kids you would have had with them.

This is a completely devastating way to miss someone.

You can miss someone without even realizing that you’ve missed them… when you come to an old, familiar place and run into some old familiar faces you haven’t seen in awhile and all those happy familiar emotions you used to associate with them come rushing back. It makes you think about why you lost touch in the first place and wonder if it was worth it. Life is so short, and maybe you should have gotten over yourself already and reached out a little sooner or made more of an effort to keep in touch. After all, there’s nothing like seeing someone who “knew you when” and has seen all your youthful craziness and loves you anyway.

Maybe those big issues you had with their personality or whatever aren’t such big issues in the long run. Maybe people are just people and you either accept them as they are and for what they can be to you and what they can’t, or else you’re left with nothing but an empty space in your heart where they once were which probably isn’t worth the loss. Seeing them makes you realize this, and you welcome them back into your life with open arms and maybe decide to reach out to some other old friends, too.

This is a good way to miss someone.

You can miss someone who was never yours to miss, simply by a realization that they’re not who you thought they were. One single realization that your perceptions about them were wrong catapults your thoughts toward “what ifs” and “what might have beens,” leading you down a dark rabbit hole of confusion and feelings.

This is a dangerous way to miss someone.

You can also miss someone that you never imagined you’d ever have to miss until they brutally and suddenly cut themselves out of your life without warning. Once they’ve removed you from their life, you’re forced to see how it feels to miss them and you realize how much you loved them and what their presence in your life meant to you.

It hurts deeply, especially when the reason they cut everyone out is because life got hard and they gave up, not wanting to be around anyone who might be good for them. And what’s even worse is knowing someone who is 27 years old and would give anything to show the world his brilliance and won’t get the chance, and also knowing someone who is 30 years old and could be anything he wants to be but gave up on life—and his wife, his friends, and everyone else who loved him—because quitting was easier than trying.

This is quite possibly the worst way to miss someone.

Nothing ever fills the void that people leave. But the best way to deal with missing someone is to give in and allow yourself the time and space to miss them...really miss them. And once you’ve effectively missed them, find a way to let them go. Take as long as you need, but do it. Then think of those who are still around not to benefit or enrich you but to take up space in your head and drain your energy. Gather your strength and find a way to let them go, too.

And then take a good, long look at your life and everyone in it and love the hell out of every last one of them, every single day, because these are the people who have survived your life and all its twists and turns. These are the people who are here with you now. Support them, trust them, forgive them when they piss you off and cherish every single second you have with them.

Because the sad fact is, you’ll end up missing most of them one day too, for one reason or another. And remembering every good moment will help you deal with whatever fallouts, realizations, separations or deaths that result in you missing them. And then you’ll be able to look back on the busiest summer you’ve ever had where you visited enough people to fill all of Manhattan’s streets and you’ll be able to feel blessed, happy, rich, and whole instead of dwelling on the holes in your heart left by the people you miss.

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