With a painful irony, I realize that even memories are not forever.
But he had hardly felt the absurdity of those things, on the one hand, and the necessity of those others, on the other (for it is rare that the feeling of absurdity is not followed by the feeling of necessity), when he felt the absurdity of those things of which he had just felt the necessity (for it is rare that the feeling of necessity is not followed by the feeling of absurdity).
- Samuel Beckett, Watt (1943)
When friends part, the experience can be joyous, or sorrowful, or bittersweet. Fondness and sadness mix in measure proportional to the closeness of the bond, and to the time and the distance apart. When family departs, it’s mostly sadness that descends, at least on me. Being parted from a particular woman in my family has pushed me down the old familiar spiral water slide of self-pity, to splash feet first into the muddy pool of despair. Ok, you may ask, isn’t that metaphor a little over-the-top? Perhaps, I reply, but doesn’t the gardener languish in winter – separated from her garden? And plus, I’ve been here before, and know we all not only survive separation, we grow.
Separating from loved ones - even as the rich dark chocolate of love may smolder into the bitter ashes of extreme distaste - is more painful still. My fragile mental equilibrium teeters and I get indigestion and acid reflux. Yuck. I once went to a female holistic doctor and homeopath. She said that all physical symptoms have mental counterparts, if not direct causes. What more proof does one need to know that heartburn comes from a bruised heart? My heart feels hot and fussy, unsettled and anxious. It would not surprise me to learn that those I am separated from suffer a collectively similar fate. But that which doesn’t kill us just makes us madder, and also I’m told, wiser. I assume the ex-vegetarian now consuming MREish cooking has experienced some similar symptoms.
Growth happens while we’re apart, almost like the exuberant growth in my backyard drenched by recent rains. Although I never went to summer camp as a child, I am familiar with the miraculous growth a child can achieve in a few short weeks away from home. Not just in inches, but in the look in their eyes - those of a person whose heart has also grown stronger. We grow up, we grow apart, we grow old. Just like a garden. Or, as Mom used to say with more clarity, “It’s the frickin’ cycle of frickin’ life.”
And we continue to grow after being parted, even if we never reunite. There’s a song called “Someday I’ll be forgiven for this.” One of the lines is “Someday you’ll be forgiven for this.” A lifelong believer in the healing powers of forgiveness, that’s the only treatment I have for my burning heart now. Well, that and Tums.