Sorting through my mail last night, I found some addressed to the previous owner of my house. Whoever it was from had long lost track of her because they used her maiden name. I have seen similar cards arrive for her each year during the holidays. Her boys were three and five when she sold the house four years ago. So these senders of holiday greetings may have been current with her over ten years ago. The lack of context and relevance made me think of growing distance between two people who were once close.
Communication breaks down in such subtle ways at first that you almost don't notice. The mistimed comment, inability to see what is evident, the odd sentence in an email that fills you with sadness - you had come to expect more sensitivity, failing to pick up non-verbal cues. Small things that don't mean much on their own but are like symptoms of the disease that is to set in.
I have been guilty of neglecting symptoms of a flu telling myself it will pass and is no big deal until it was too late and the worst has happened. So is the case with broken links between people and failing to make the connect time after time. Would these people who never heard back from Ms P wonder why that is ? Would they misunderstand ? If they were important in her life, chances are they would have been informed of the changes in it including her new name and address. Ms P's holiday mail reminded me of lines from a poem by Philip Larkin
So many things I had thought forgotten
Return to my mind with stranger pain:
- Like letters that arrive addressed to someone
Who left the house so many years ago.