It was a lovely day today. Sunny, warm, breezy. I left the back door open for several hours, and Elderly Three-toothed Dog stretched out in, and blended quite nicely with, the brown of the lawn. I wore a short sleeve shirt when I ran my errands, and was not at all cold. Marvelous.
It was just the kind of day that is just right for poking around in the desert, or for going for an evening constitutional, or for sitting out on the patio after dinner -- the kinds of things that we would do with Cherished Friend when he lived here in this corner of the desert.
That made him seem Very Far Away today.
Missing someone is a funny thing. It's a personal, unilateral sensation, an echo of familiarity in which there is an absent component. As has been said (in various permutations by Commander Data and other denizens of the Star Trek universe): My mental pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns. And despite distance and time, we still occasionally travel those mental pathways, and it is then that it's clear that certain sensory input patterns which we associate with those pathways are not there.
That's a semi-technical description of what is, ultimately, a visceral feeling of absence.
Roads diverge. We are well aware of the ever-spreading pathways of the Offspring as they travel their own roads to and through school; we think of our siblings and our relatives, all so far away, in their own little worlds; and of our Cherished Friend, in his own corner of the desert. It's a small planet, and yet it is infinitely spacious when distance separates us from those who are important to us.
My mother jokes on occasion that she hasn't forgiven me for moving away from home when Beloved Husband and I got married. (Within six years of getting married, we did ultimately move rather far -- some 2,000 miles from the town where I grew up.) That joke, though intended to be harmless, makes me sad. I can never, even in jest, begrudge another's actions in that way. We all have our own lives to make for ourselves. Pathways sometimes lead away, and farther and farther away, from those who are (metaphorically) closest to us. Such it is.
The last thing I want in this one life I have, is to tie someone to me through some kind of guilt or sense of obligation towards me. They owe nothing to anyone but themselves. If the people whom I hold close in my heart move away from me, so be it. They must go forth and find where their paths lead. What I wish most for them is not that they remain nearby to me, but that that they find their own happiness. If they are happy, then I will be happy for them, too.
All that being said, I will say this one thing tonight: I am looking forward to the next time the weather is like this, and we have a chance to poke around in the desert, or go for an evening constitutional, or sit out on the patio after dinner, with our Cherished Friend.