By the time he gets back, Rob will have been in Spokane almost four weeks. During that time, I've been there for one of those weeks, but it's still been frustrating to be separated for so long so early in our marriage. He's had good reason to be there, which I'll get to another time, including before and after pictures of the house and a love sonnet to a renewed friendship with a couple I've known for years, but it's given me a lot of time to reflect on missing someone who is simply elsewhere versus missing someone who will not be seen again this side of heaven.
I have been embarassingly unsympathetic with friends who have had to endure short separations from one another for whatever reason... because, well, I win. I've been missing big Blake for over four years now, and more painfully: no phone calls, emails, or online chatting. What a lame way to win. Though, in the back of my mind, it was as though he was on mainland China with no way of communication. I knew he still existed, but in no way I could reach him. It was comforting and maddening and surreal, especially because I half-expected him to walk in the back door at my folks' house any moment that first year after his death. Also, I kept coming across his shaving kit in a drawer or suitcase or wherever I'd put it - and he would have needed that, China or no.
Now, having Rob within easy communication reach but not within arm's reach and still being apart for quite some time is giving me pause about how cavalierly I disregarded my friends' feelings. The ache of grief and longing is a ceaseless and constant dull ache, sometimes sharpening into full body howls, but with no real comfort other than distraction and the healing power of time and God's hand (when I could tolerate it). I stayed up late so that I could fall into bed exhausted, surrounding myself with pillows to simulate non-emptiness, and sleeping poorly.
The longing of missing someone with whom I speak daily is not as painful as it is enormously irritating, like an itch I can't scratch. I'm not sad that Rob's out of town, I'm mad at the circumstances that have kept him away for so long. I'm plunged back into the busy-ness and lethargy of being a single parent. I stay up far too late because getting into bed alone isn't all that appealing, though I still surround myself with pillows and sleep poorly.
Missing someone and grieving someone are enormously different. I can be more compassionate now with my friends who are missing others, and still maintain my compassion to those in grief. I get it now, dammit.
He's just outside of Butte. He's almost home.