Misery encompasses different things for different people. For some, it’s loneliness, heartbreak or financial burden and for others — myself included — misery is missing the people you love and in this context, it refers to the distance that creates it.
It's the curse of missing loved ones.
Wanting to be near someone, to not just hear his or her voice, but to also see his or her eyes crinkle in a smile or feel reassured by a soft touch on the arm, is painful.
Skype, email and Facebook have helped significantly in terms of staying in touch and remaining a part of someone’s daily life, but those things in no way replace the intimacy of physical presence.
I can’t be the only one who’s looked at a photograph of a family member or friends and remembered the time it was taken, why someone was laughing and how it felt in that moment only to have to put the frame down because pain weaves itself over the pleasure of the memory.
It is a curse to miss people because yearning for them may partially ebb, but it never wholly goes away.
It is sometimes most prominent when you least expect it or when you realize it has been years since you saw this person in the flesh. It’s a form of heartbreak and if you’re familiar with it.
These are some feelings you might have experienced:
Time is limited
When you have friends or family members who live separately from you, the allotted time you do have with them creates vivid and lasting memories because they are so fleeting.
I can recall whole conversations with my Nan from nearly 10 years ago because I have only a handful to recollect. While the number may be small, the memories aren’t because they’re so precious.
Being able to see someone or groups of people a few times a year or once every few years means we will spend the time well and cherish it.
We still treasure moments with friends and family we are fortunate enough to see regularly, but unlike those we see frequently, nothing falls through the cracks.
Those who come from big families are extremely lucky
I’ve been spectacularly fortunate to have a loving family that includes me, two parents and my younger sister. Yet, that’s all we have; every birthday, Christmas, Easter and special occasion, it’s just the four of us.
In Great Britain, we have more family than my hands and toes could count, so we miss out on a lot since we live across the globe in Australia.
Many people spend lifetimes with their grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. Missing loved ones means not understanding when friends complain about such lovely arrangements.
The point is, for those who are away and missing a large portion of their family or friends, it can be lonely.
The thought of having a bustling house, full of loud noises and loved ones, is entirely foreign and entirely welcome.
Loneliness is a powerful feeling
Loneliness holds hands with melancholy to ensure you feel certain misery during its presence. It’s one of the more painful repercussions of missing another person and having little means to rectify it.
Life isn’t always kind to us and conversations through a telephone aren’t always comforting. Sometimes, we just need to see that one person who can marginally stifle the suffocating experience of loneliness.
You appreciate people more
There’s a frisson of excitement knowing there is an actual timeline when you can wrap your arms around a loved one and embrace him or her as if distance isn’t the enemy.
Then, there’s a feeling of dread in your stomach because while you’re looking at the familiar freckles on loved ones' faces or their animated hand gestures, which accompany conversation, you realize that with "hello," comes "goodbye," and too soon, you'll have to say it all over again.
You tend to hoard related trinkets
Birthday cards, cinema tickets, letters, photographs — anything that reminds you of these people escapes the trash and is tucked safely in a drawer, retrievable for reminiscing when you desire.
It’s as though the item becomes a part of who they are and a physical manifestation of a certain memory in time. To throw these things away somehow feels wrong, so you don’t do it.
You have more places to visit
As we grow older, people begin to discard their hometowns and scatter themselves across the globe. While this increases the people you miss and escalates airfare, there is a bright aspect to having many loved ones in many different places.
You get to see the world.
This, of course, can be done by traveling, but there’s something amazing about seeing a place anew when a friend or family member shows it to you.
It’s like having properties littered in various locations because you always have somewhere to stay with someone you love.
I’ve come to consider England and Wales a second home because of the people there. I wouldn’t have had the same sense of attachment to and perspective of these locations without them.
Yes, missing people is a curse with a small silver lining. It’s painful and emotional, but above all else, we’re lucky to love people and experience love in return because while seeing someone occasionally is not enough, we do get to see them sometimes.
And, when we do, we are bestowed with wonderful, treasured memories.