“Hello, sweet girl,” she said, swooping Emilia into her arms. “I’ve waited a very long time to meet you.”
“To meet me?”
“Yes, you. I’ve known you your whole life, and now I finally get to meet you. And give you kisses.” And with that she buried her face in Emilia’s neck and gave her big, sloppy, raspberry kisses and Emilia giggled and squealed and my heart squeezed and I thought, how is it possible that these are the first kisses they’ve shared?
She’s known Emilia since Emilia was only a few months old. And I’ve known – and loved – her children since they were small. We’ve been friends since we first found each other – found each other in this odd community – over three years ago, since I first found her and her secret place of mourning and saw my family’s future there and saw in her, amazing her, the spirit of grace and love and hope and laughter and demanded – demanded – that we be friends. You will love me, I told her. And she did, and I did, and it was good. (She will tell this differently. She will tell you that she found me, and that she demanded friendship of me and that she forced her love on me. It doesn’t matter.) (But I did find her first.)
I have loved her a long time, and she has loved me. But she had never met Emilia.
The wrongness of this is difficult to put into words. It’s a kind of fundamental wrongness, a kind of wrongness-of-the-soul, the kind that puts the universe off-kilter, the kind that makes you wake up in the middle of the night feeling that you’ve lost something or are missing something but can’t name it, no matter how desperately you grope the shadowed corners of your heart. It’s the wrongness of lack, of absence. It’s the wrongness that comes with not being able to share all of your joy with the people you love. It’s the wrongness that comes with not being able to keep and hold all of that love together, close.
There are so many varieties of this wrongness. There’s the wrongness of Emilia and Jasper not being able to share enough of Tanner’s brief life. There’s the wrongness of them having long distance relationships with their grandparents. And then, too, there’s this: the wrongness of the distance of friends, of heart-friends who know them and love them because they know and love me, and the wrongness of my own distance and my children’s distance from the families of heart-friends. It’s a wrongness that weighs heavily, sometimes, on the soul, because it imposes a kind of partiality on love, because it prevents that love from being experienced to the fullest. Or to be less pedantic about it: it’s wrong that I’m missing out on such important parts of the lives of some of my dearest friends and they mine and it sometimes makes me sad.
The Internet transcends time and space and allows us to frolic together in the code and light, but it does not replace time and space and real, wet raspberry kisses. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t.
So we had Auntie Tanis for a while this weekend and some of the gaps in our hearts were filled. Oveflowingly filled. But abundance sometimes makes one feel more keenly the lack, and so this morning, when Emilia said where is she I miss her when is she coming back, I felt the thud in my heart resound and vibrate, thrumming through the empty parts, and I knew that today I would miss her more than ever, that I would miss all of my heart-friends more than ever, and that I would probably sit in the corner of my garden and pout and whine and maybe shake my fists at the gods a time or two.
Which is exactly what I am doing now. That, and plotting an Epic Heart Friend Tour Of Love Road Trip. First stop: Redneckville, Alberta.