Absence makes the heart grow fon(col)der?

Subtitle: A personal meditation on the sense of knowing (or in what sense can anyone say one does or does not know another)


“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Or so, the olden saying;
meaning, I suppose,
that separation from a beloved one
or even one once, day by day seen and known,
can cause, compel one to feel more resonantly presently positive
about that now absent from presence person.

As I look over my life, now, in my 7th decade,
I think about those, many of those
who I can say I knew,
who, now, in absence,
them from me and them from me
(not dead, but distant;
living, but worlds apart;
aye, still orbiting the same sun,
but on far different elliptical runs)
I must say I used to know.

solar system

For “knowing,”
I think, as a chronologically, situationally relevant term,
is related – fettered, bound – to
(or, perhaps, better, best said, incarnated in)
the ongoing,
instant by instant,
increasing history of given moments.

talking heads

Meaning that,
short of the daily or, at least, regular renewal of knowing,
who can say that one truly knows another?

(This is especially true, I also think,
in the light, aye, immersed in the shadow
of the life-long difficulty of knowing one’s self;
for, as the Apostle saith, we look in a mirror dimly.)

And, I wonder, is this true for you, too,
that there are those,
a few or a many,
with whom you once were related,
but now, no longer?

And why?

When I think of my life and my relationships,
there are those who, by the distance of geography,
I no longer see
(and, for long, so long, I no longer have seen)
thus, who I cannot say I know.
For knowing, as an act of remembrance,
howe’er distant, is rooted in my memories of
who they were and
who I was with them and
who they were because of me and
who I was because of them;
but, all of which, no longer in real-time remaining,
no longer pertains.

talking heads (talking past each other)

And then there are those
with whom I no longer have and hold
any particular affinity in attitude or ideology,
in similitude of personal philosophy or theology.
For ‘twas proximity that brought us together,
but, now, given the distance of time and the time of distance,
I see more clearly, that we held no especial kindred sympathy.
(I wonder. Do they see it, too?)

cybercommunication icons

And, notwithstanding the miracle of social media,
the Facebook and Instagram
and any other cyber-led, cyber-fed algorithm,
allowing renewed and continued connection with those far away,
can anyone, any of us truly say:
“Via these means alone, I know you?”

2 thoughts on “Absence makes the heart grow fon(col)der?

  1. Thank you Paul!!!!

    Soooooooo I let this post marinate overnight and think about all of my relationships past and present. First I had to remember two things…. when was I last at Clevedale and when did we last speak by phone…took me a minute to come up with answers….

    It is amazing how distance and time and us changing as individuals impact our relationships in significant ways.

    There are only a couple of my relationships that haven’t changed significantly since Tim’s death. Being a widow changes almost every facet of life especially relationships. I’m a very different person now than I was 3 1/2 years ago too.

    If I ask myself the question do I “still” know you and Pontheolla, I guess the honest answer is certainly not like I used to….Facebook helps as you pointed out but it’s nothing compared to real time and being in the same space…

    That said, I’ll add that though we don’t know each other the way we did when you lived here in DC and your first years at Clevedale, BUT I certainly do still love you both.

    One of the things about relationships is that I believe you still KNOW each other when you see each other again after a long absence and pick up again as if you’ve never missed a beat.

    Guess I need to plan my next visit to SC.

    Much love!


  2. Loretta, always and in all ways, I thank you for reading, reflecting, and then commenting on my posts.

    This one is especially important to me. Largely, I think and I feel, because daily I am aware – more and more – of my mortality. One day, I will die. In this realization, every day and at several moments during each day, I think of those who have gone before me. My brother Wayne. My brother Tim. My parents. And others…

    Then, progressing from this point, I think of those who are alive in this world whom I once knew in the present flesh of real-time interaction, but whom I see no longer. Some, yes, are those with whom I remain cyber-connected on FB (indeed, some of them are those whom I’ve “found” again via social media with whom I hadn’t been in touch for years). Still, the larger number of these folk, I share no bond of any kind. Hence, I remember them – when they come to mind – as they were back in the proverbial day when we shared common time-and-space. Indeed, in this, they are frozen in time as I remember them then/when (ironically, almost in the same way the dead can be in human memory).

    Then, as I reflect on my life, I realize that one of my existential patterns is that when I’ve left a place, I generally have not returned nor do I retain ties with folk from past arenas of being and living. Save for miracle of FB, etc., I’d not maintained any connections with folk from elementary or high school or college, even seminary. I also realize – that for reasons, some of which I know, and, as I believe our human unconsciousness is the larger realm of our being than consciousness, most of which I know not – that my ties to family, at best, are loose and, in some cases, non-existent.

    As I write, all this gets stirred up in me as a daily and, again, at several moments during each day, contemplate my mortality.

    Now, as you for, dearest sister, I’ll always love you. No matter what. (And I’m happy that you love us!) There are but a handful – and I do mean less than 5, that is, if I were to count! – of people I’ve known about whom I can say that. You are one.



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