The loneliness comes later. Like the alcoholic uncle who you secretly hoped had forgotten about your Christmas party. But now he’s at the door, and Rage and Regret and Bitterness are already waving him over to the punch bowl.
The loneliness is different. Is has a heft and a solidity to it. Anger can be salved and sadness can be poured out and spent. But loneliness sticks like the cold on a damp December morning.
The loneliness is not mere Missing. It is not solely loss. It’s waking up to the wrong room, the wrong halls, the wrong echoes every hour. It’s the light switch you find by muscle memory, but the house remains dark.
The loneliness has depth and breadth. Every strata of it was earned with years of learning and being learned, seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard. There are no shortcuts through it.
You can sit with a friend and still the loneliness stares at you from the third chair, reminding you that where you were once Known, now you are only glimpsed. Now you are untethered. If you were to lose your direction no one would call you home with secret words and true names.