I read an article once: “Why do people cry over fictional characters more than actual real people?”
I remember it said that it’s because of closure.
When a fictional character leaves, it is sudden. One moment he’s there, and next, he’s telling his best friend goodbye and falling off the St Bart’s Hospital rooftop. One moment they’re his companions, and the next, the madman with a blue box is travelling alone once again.
When 149 other students say goodbye, we don’t feel anything. Because it’s been ingrained to us, we think about it every single day, that it has lost its thrill. We got so used to the fear of losing someone, got so used to looking around and seeing them there, that when graduation comes, you don’t feel the loneliness just yet. You got used to that assurance that they’re still there.
When you’re in your toga, taking pictures with people, saying your last words to the people you’re going to see for the last time, you don’t feel it just yet. It doesn’t sink it just yet. It’s as if you’ve accepted the fact that they were going to leave.
But no. You haven’t accepted it. You are in a state of denial where your mind, body, heart and soul still believes that it’s not over yet.
Because when you walk on that stage, you feel as if it’s just another Graduation rehearsal. You sing the Baccalaureate songs like you did countless times before. It does not sink in that that was the last time you were going to do it, that it was already the real deal.
But one day, you’ll walk along the corridors and listen for voices you will never hear again – batch songs, angklung ensembles, shouts of joy, shrieks of laughter… One day, you’ll enter a classroom and feel that something is missing – there’s no one asking for food, or complaining that there’s none, or no one asking around for answers. One day you’ll look around and be surrounded by a sea of strangers you cannot even look twice at.
One day, you’ll wonder where this person is, and you’ll realize that he’s not just a few steps away. One day, you’ll think of how they’re doing, you’ll worry if they’re still alive in the first place, if they were able to reach their dreams, or if their nightmares have caught up to them. One day, you’ll miss the way they laughed, or the annoying sounds of their voices, or the way they complained.
It’s a slow process. You won’t see it coming. It won’t hit you like a tidal wave. It will drown you like a wooden boat with tiny holes on its floor. And once you’re at the bottom, you won’t be able to breathe. You won’t be able to do anything but struggle and scream, to no avail.
That’s what missing someone feels like.