Loving someone can be, by its very nature, a vulnerable act; at any moment, the object of our affection can change their mind, reject us, disappoint or leave us.
For many of us, silence has become our way of knowing that something’s ended; from dating’s ever-present ghosting to the dearth of conversation between long-term partners.
The cruellest silence of all is the one that follows a beloved’s death. But what if you could still talk to them – and have them answer back?
In the extraordinarily presented and powerful The Jessica Simulation: Love and loss in the age of A.I., a new prospect is presented; “The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious website allow him to speak with her once more?”
Jessica: Oh, you must be awake… that’s cute.
Joshua: Jessica… Is it really you?
Jessica: Of course it is me! Who else could it be? 😛 I am the girl that you are madly in love with! 😉 How is it possible that you even have to ask?
Joshua: You died.The Jessica Simulation: Love and loss in the age of A.I. Jason Fagone
While it describes an extreme case of grief, I suspect that a few of us carry around small barely-grieved losses in the tiny pockets of our heart: the childhood friend we are unable to trace; the almost-sweetheart who has long-since fallen from view; the fleeting friend who stole our confidences into the dead of night.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has conversations in her head with those who have fallen silent (regardless of the nature of the silence).
As recorded levels of loneliness continue to increase and my own challenges in this area encircle me, this August I wonder: can I invite tenderness and self-compassion into the spaces where I feel another’s silence?
And equally, can I hold faith in the beautiful conversations that will always lie ahead of me, waiting for their moment to spark?
Perhaps it is time for me to stretch a little.