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On Missing Someone

What does it mean to miss someone? When I say with trembling heart that "I miss you," what do I really mean or experience?

Initially and for the most part, it simply means that the one that is missed is absent. From within my surroundings and my vicinity, she has left and departed. I want to see her, but I cannot see her--my intention (to see her) misses its aim (her being seen). And this absence is such a one that affects me. True, because most of the time, a lot of things, people, places may not always be present. But this does not mean however that I miss them all, for as far as I know, their absence may not affect me so much as to say that I miss them. So the one that is missed is missed because its absence affects me, or inversely, its presence--that it be seen--is of value to me. And it could only be of value to me because it had been valuable already. I can only (again) long for the presence of something because I already witnessed, possessed or experienced it before, and, judging by that previous experience in the past, I still see its worth and importance to me even in the present where that other is absent. The present, however it may be filled with what is present, what can be seen, is thereby disqualified by an absence or past that far outweighs any present presence. The reality of my present is thus suspended and matters little to me compared to that which I miss. What is real then is struck with vanity: it is but it might as well not be against that which I long for. All this is becomes nothing.

But how can something that is absent possess so much weight so as to displace any thing in the present or every present thing? The fault lies not in the presence of present things; their silence only reverberates echoes of that which was. And this echo is heard not from the silence of the world but from the voice of one's past. It is the past which carries with it the weight of the absent and missed thing, buttressing the force of the present to close up on the past and disqualify any non-real thing from being (present). It is the past that lies in man's heart, if you wish, that makes present what is no longer visible or present. Memory, so often taken for granted, ensures that the presence of what is now absent remains even in the desert of the real. I am able to miss the other solely because I remember. Remembering doubles the present so as to accommodate the presence of what is past, reinstituting it here and making it stand amidst the presence of present things. When I remember, I do not go back and leave the present; when I remember what is past and missed, I remember it here, where I stand among present things, and now, at this present time. The past is played out in the present. And this contrast, of what no longer is against that which is, is what makes remembering and missing someone more often than not painful. That I am here and now but she no longer is: this is the weight that I have to carry.

It is this suspension of the present which makes time stand still and gathers all the other times in one moment of agony. The past is remembered, the present is suspended, and the future is waited upon. The absence which makes me miss her in the present postpones the self to a future time to come, a time when the other shall become present again. The stance of the one who waits then is the stance of anticipation where what can be is waited upon and until that time of presence comes, her absence and the memory of her presence marks the present in suspense. The possibility of her presence in a future time to come thus floods the present and there fills it. This is why missing somebody does not merely mean living in the past but, more so, it transports me to a future possibility of her arrival. In anticipation, I already count as void the present and leave its climate to an uncertainty which is able to silence the quiet longing of the heart. What is to come, her arrival, then is able to gather me--my past (memory) and present (desire)--into a resolve without which I may be lost and fragmented.


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