Today I met a man I haven't seen for ten years. All the time I had thought I was remembering him well - how he looked and how he spoke and the sort of things he said. The first five minutes of the real man shattered the image completely. Not that he had changed. On the contrary. I kept on thinking, 'Yes, of course, of course, I'd forgotten he thought that - or disliked this, or knew so and so - or jerked his head back that way'. I had known all these things once and I recognized them the moment I met them again. But they had all faded out of my mental picture of him, and when they were all replaced by his actual presence the total effect was quite astonishingly different from the image I had carried about with me for those ten years. How can I hope that this is not happening to my memory of H? That this is not happening already?
CS Lewis A Grief Observed
Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I myself am known.
I Corinthians 13: 12
CS Lewis is right. We live with an imagined image of those that we love that are far away. When we come to see them we are shocked by their unimaginable beauty. The beautiful glass image we make of them in our minds is smashed and re-moulded into the a living, more beautiful reality. Losing people, by circumstance and distance is painful. But, it is impossible to imagine what life would have been like without the goodness of their presence in the first place. So, for the most part we are content to have our hearts broken through time and separation, if only because it teaches us to love more fully those moments when it is possible to be together, and appreciate properly the people who we love that are with us every day.