Copied from Walter Benjamin’s “One-Way Street,” Selected Writings, vol. 1, 450.
How much more easily the leave-taker is loved! For the flame burns more purely for those vanishing in the distance, fueled by the fleeting scrap of material waving from the ship or railway window. Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.
When a person very close to us is dying, there is (we dimly apprehend) something in the months to come that – much as we should have liked to share it with him – could happen only through his absence. We greet him, at the last, in a language that he already no longer understands.