Four million, five hundred thirty seven thousand, five hundred and eighty.

That’s how many people visited my blog in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday it was slightly less than that.

I received more than three hundred emails today. Almost every one of which was somebody telling me how much me or my blog means to them. Telling me how wonderful they think I am. Telling me how incredible a person they know that I am.

More than two thousand new comments were left on my blog posts in that same time span. Many of those people told me the exact same things.

I am loved by many.

So many.

Yet I am loved by no one.

The day is long departed. Depleted of all mental energy and at the end of an ever-shortening emotional rope, I crawl into bed, pull the sheets around my shoulders, and I find myself unhurriedly surveying the moonlit empty pillow next to mine. Wondering. How am I so loved.

And so alone.

If I look at the pillow long enough, perhaps I will wake up from this dream and she will be there.

The love of my life.

My confidant.

The only person who can tell me the one thing I need to hear.

Surely she exists. Surely I am worthy of such a blessing. Surely this glimpse of reality can’t be mine. It can’t be real.

But she doesn’t appear. And finally even the moonlight begins to abandon me.

Just before I drift into blackness, I think of Big Al Jones. Einstein. Honest John himself. And those words he said that so often haunt me.

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”

Four million, five hundred thirty seven thousand, five hundred and eighty.

My work is loved by many. I am loved by many.

So many.

Yet I am known by no one.

“We know you,” people say. “You are an incredible person,” people say.

“You are a horrible person,” other people say.

Many other people there are that tell me exactly who I am. Who they know that I am.

But nobody knows me.

Nobody.

The empty pillow next to mine teases me with this unsolicited awareness.

The empty pillow where she should be.

The empty pillow where I fantasize that she will quietly appear because surely I am worthy of such an approbation. Surely I have lived a life deserving of her.

The love of my life.

My confidant.

The one whose soft shoulders absorb my tears when the world hurts me.

The one whose pleasant smile accepts me when the world rewards me.

The only person who can tell me the one thing I need to hear sometimes.

The only person who can actually tell me, “I know you, Dan.”

“I know you are a good man.”

“I know you are incredible.”

“I love you.”

The only person who really knows me.

But what about your child, some will say. Surely he knows you. Surely he loves you.

My child loves me. Yes. My child knows me. Yes.

But my child cannot be that person. My child cannot be that confidant. My child cannot fill the space above that empty pillow.

I can never ask him to take part of this burden from me. It is not his to bear. It is not his to fix. My shoulder was created for his tears, not the other way around.

The weight of my deliberations press me further into my bed.

And then.

Blackness.

Reprieve from the reality of this phenomenon. Reprieve from this singularity that so few people on earth will ever experience or understand.

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”

It is strange to be so loved. And to fall asleep, watching an empty pillow.

I have known loneliness in my life. But this loneliness is different.

This loneliness swallows the words of thousands, the thoughts of millions, and the love of countless others. This loneliness smothers the moonlight itself. This loneliness laughs at my aching eyes.

My eyes that are forced to watch that pillow.

That empty pillow.

People think they want to be loved and known by thousands. People think they want to be loved and known by millions.

I just want to be loved and really known by one.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. I started writing this blog post last Wednesday night in the aftermath of the “Brave Teen” blog post.