A long while ago, many years in fact, I was asked a simple question…
I was visiting my aunt, who was suffering from heartache at the time, and during one of our soul-searching drives into the middle of nowhere, she asked me about which phrase I believed to be truer.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” –or– “Out of sight, out of mind.”
At the time, I was conflicted. They both seemed accurate in one fashion or another. And, let’s face it, I didn’t want to say one and my aunt think the other was true. She was so emotionally fragile at the time, and I was afraid to add to it by saying the wrong thing. Not to mention that I’d never been in any form of serious romantic relationship, so I was pretty green and going off of nothing but teenage intuition.
So I answered as honestly as I could. I told her I didn’t know.
Now, it’s been years since she asked me that question. But I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought about it and vetted my answers from year to year, month to month, or even day to day. Because, again, each phrase seems to stand on its own merit.
I mean, I’ve since witnessed and experienced countless relationships that give each saying a run for its money. So, every time I took the time to dwell on which was the better answer, I was left conflicted as ever.
Then, I lost my brother. My twin. My Bake Charters. And my entire world turned in on itself. Who I am is no longer who I was. I don’t recognize myself. I don’t have the same dreams or desires. I don’t even have much will.
Which means, I’ve thought about this phrase a lot. And, today, I finally have the answer.
After nearly six months without my twin, my grief hasn’t diminished. I still suffer from severe depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional issues that affect my daily and nightly life. The nights are generally the worst for me and on nights when it’s particularly tough, I force myself to watch “happy” television shows.
So I was watching the Good Witch last night when Cassie, the main character, said something profound (as per usual) to one of the other characters. And, much to my astonishment, her simple statement solved the phrasing riddle that my aunt asked long ago…
“Absence is to love, what wind is to fire. It extinguishes the small and inflames the great.”
Need I say more?
This phrase is a perfect combination of both of the former sayings. Absence will make the heart grow fonder, if the love is great. And if it isn’t, then it’s easy to understand how being out of sight would help to put that person out of mind.
So there you go.
As a side note, my twin brother told me that my aunt had asked him the same question and he had said, “Out of sight, out of mind.” I find it ironic, because since his passing, my feelings have been anything but. Yet, our relationship isn’t the typical “romantic” pursuit that most attribute to these phrases. It was an intense sibling loyalty on its most basic level, and the loss of something so precious is a guttural absence to the core of who I am.
I doubt my aunt expected so much time to lapse before getting a proper answer but, when I told her last night, she said that, “Sometimes it takes circumstances to make us understand these things.”
And now I wish I still didn’t understand.