The Missing appears without warning, completely uninvited, and ruins everything. Ruins whole days, whole weeks. It overtakes me. It makes breathing difficult. It makes moving on impossible. Unthinkable.
The Missing doesn’t care about the enormous progress I’ve made lately with Cautionary Husband. It demands to be felt. It throws elbows at anything else that might be crowding it. It takes up a lot of room.
The Missing slips into my bed while I sleep and is there with me when I’m awakened in the middle of the night by a violent storm. As I listen to the loud thunder and strong winds, I at first worry that there could be a tornado, which is a natural reaction for me, since I grew up in Tornado Alley and live on the second floor of my apartment building. I listen for sirens for a bit. And then The Missing provides odd comfort in the fact that if there were a tornado in my city, Cautionary Lover would hear about it on the news and be worried about me. The Missing lulls me irrationally back to unsettled sleep.
The Missing wakes me up later with “Another Lonely Day” by Ben Harper stuck in my head even though I haven’t listened to this song in about four years. As I shower, I try to chalk it up to the rain and the Monday, but The Missing makes it very clear that neither of these is the full story.
The Missing makes me spend the morning reading old e-mails, even though I regret it immediately. Because these e-mails make The Missing stronger.
The Missing calls out to me from the hotel at which CL and I consummated the affair. It makes ignoring this building’s presence impossible as I walk down the street in the rain holding on to my umbrella. I just wanted to get some goddamn Starbucks, and now I am in tears.
The Missing sits with me on the couch at Starbucks on my lunch hour. I had planned on reading D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, but instead the news program about the Swine Flu catches my attention. The Missing points out that my city is one of the few affected by this contagious, unpredictable disease and suggests that maybe CL is thinking of me, of the possible danger I am in.
The Missing turns me into an internet stalker. And I HATE being an internet stalker.
The Missing lies to me, telling me that I am living the wrong life.
The Missing makes me feel as though I’m not a whole person without CL. It makes CL into an aching phantom limb. There is no way to heal the ache, because it’s not even real. The appendage isn’t there. It’s gone.
The Missing is nostalgia at its worst. It forces memories upon me, CL’s words into my head, CL’s presence into my heart.
The Missing makes me inescapably, unbearably sad.
But I know that The Missing will pass. It will go away again, not as quickly as it appeared, but gradually and surely. And though I know that it will come back again, I also know that, when it does, it will be a little bit weaker than last time.