This year of separations shows us how deeply tied we are to those we love most | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Because of Covid-19, I haven’t seen my brother since Christmas. The pain of missing him is awful, but also revelatory

I’ve always liked how the French talk about missing people. “Il me manque”, they say, which means, “I miss him”. But the construction is different: literally translated, it’s “he is missing to me”, as though a crucial part of you has been removed – a limb, a scrap of your soul. Somehow, it conjures a greater depth of feeling than our way of saying it.

In the time of coronavirus, many of us have learned what it means to miss a person. It feels like years since the Queen addressed the nation and made reference to We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn, a song that has been replayed endlessly since. I have found this almost unbearable to stomach, not because of my latent republicanism and aversion to jingoistic war nostalgia, but because when he was about six, my brother, who is autistic, became obsessed with Lynn, and would play her CD over and over (yes, it was fun times at our house). Another song to add to the list of songs that make me leave a bar or shop – the comfort being I’m not going into many of those at the moment.

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