More than two years after she died I finally got what Laura meant when she said “I will miss you.” The movie Beasts of the Southern Wild centers on a little girl called Hushpuppy, who lives with her father. Much of the plot is about the father’s dying and Hushpuppy’s wishing for her missing mother. The movie made me feel my own mortality and become aware of my strong feelings about what it might be like for Anne Mei after I’m gone. Then I saw that these were the emotions Laura was feeling when she said “I will miss you.”
That experience put me in Laura’s place facing mortality. As I was turning off the lights the other night two years after that experience, I happened to glance at the program for Anne Mei’s recital described in Timbre. All day I had been telling myself how pleased Laura would have been with Anne Mei’s performance. As I looked at that program, however, an overwhelming wave of sadness came over me. This is precisely what Laura knew she would be missing.
Robert Redford’s recent movie All is Lost conveys yet another aspect of “I will miss you.” At the beginning of the movie the unnamed character played by Redford is writing what quickly becomes clear is a farewell letter to family or other loved ones. He closes the letter with “I will miss you,” stated in exactly the same tone and sense that Laura used. Sad but very straightforward, strong with a sense of doing one’s best to stay alive, not an ounce of self-pity. I happened to be reading Samuel Scheffler’s new book, Death & the Afterlife when I went to see All is Lost. Almost more than grief, “I will miss you” also expresses a human dynamic discussed by Scheffler: asserting a personal connection with the future.
(Laura’s friend Janet Beizer is the one who alerted me to the use of this phrase in All is Lost.)