It is the hardest thing in the world to be close to a person and then not to be. To know all the little things you can know about a person, how hot they like the water when they shower, whether they want their breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or sourdough, the way their voice sounds when something’s wrong and they aren’t telling you. The things that they love and the things that make them laugh and the things that piss them off. Random details from all the stories they’ve told you, from the past they’ve shared with you. To know all these things, and to keep knowing them long after they are relevant to you. The strange dissonance of knowing all of the details of someone who is no longer as important as knowing those details conveys. And it is there, in that space between what was and what is, that the pain lives.
Your brain often fails to play catch up, still alerts you to things you see that remind you them, that you want to tell them or show them because it’s something that they would think was interesting or funny. Your brain keeps pointing these things out to you long after you have the ability to share them. It snows or you read an article about Cosmos, you drink a particularly delicious IPA or hear Ira Glass’s voice, and within seconds you are elated and then empty. Driving in winter storms makes you think of Valentines Day and the trails by your house are where they first told you they loved you and you have to skip every Typhoon song that comes up on shuffle. And each time this happens, each time you see or hear something and you think of them, it serves as a sharp reminder of the change, of the shift in what you were and are to each other.
It feels like when you wake from a dream with your arm extended, your hand trying to reach something that isn’t there. What you thought you were grabbing does not exist, but your hand hangs there still, outstretched, reaching, hoping to make contact. And no matter how desperately you grasp at the air, nothing will appear. What you are clutching at is gone.
You see them and it feels like some sort of dismal parallel universe where they are them and you are you and yet nothing is as it should be. Nothing is the same. You still know their details and they still know yours and yet there is a space between you, an invisible, gaping space that seems to grow with each day, a space that was never there before. All you want is to eliminate it, to make it stop aching, to go back to what existed before, but you can’t. You are standing feet away from each other and the space between you is this massive, gaping chasm. They are right there and yet the distance is impassable. It is not the past or the present that makes it hurt, it is the difference. The palpable, glaring, expanding difference. It sucks the air out of your lungs.
You start to want to forget all the details, to make them a stranger. To un-know all that you know and forget all that you remember. To turn away from the distance. You want to do this and you can’t. All you can do is wait. Until it burns a little less. A little less, and then a little less.