Archive for Thursday, January 29, 2009

Longing grows with age

January 29, 2009

When I was young, my mother often had visitors come to the house. She recorded daily those visits in a calendar diary where she also recorded the weather and her health. I still have the stack of bound calendars that were saved over the years.

Her generation appreciated history and valued the people in life that formed both the past and the future. She was almost greedy in her collection of memories and the days of those visits.

When people would leave after their visit, she would look longingly, wishing and willing the next visit before the tires of the leaving car had begun their homeward rotation. I never quite understood what seemed an unfulfilled longing, until now.

I did not realize that the coming and going of people could fulfill and create a longing for their presence — the sound of their voice, the shape of a chin, the unlaced shoe, the laughter, the pauses in conversation.

My oldest sister used to avoid calling home or delay writing a letter because she said it made her homesick. I did not understand such homesickness for people, until now.

Maybe we have to live long enough to understand some things — like homesickness for a person that grows, even as a visit is ending and they are about to leave. Maybe we have to have some significant life experience that puts such visits and people into perspective.

When holiday cards came, instead of waiting until Christmas eve, savoring them one at a time; I read each one as it arrived, reading the words, touching the signature, imagining the face of the one who wrote the card; it both fulfilled a longing and created a longing.

It fulfilled a longing for a visit from a distant or close friend and fulfilled a longing to hear their thoughts, learn about their day-to-day lives, their thoughts about our friendship. It created a longing to know more, to hear their voice, to remember a special time and place with just that friend, to hope for another note, a call, another visit.

It is perhaps through such experiences that we are stretched into a new understanding of our incredible connectedness, our need for people in our lives, the part that other people play in the ballast of the ship of life that sails so quickly past.

In the passing of days, I have come to a new awareness that each of you has, in your own way, both created and fulfilled a longing. Thanks for the visit; come again soon.

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