No matter how hard you tried in the moment to not take anything for granted, it always seems like you did, afterward, because no amount of good memories or photographs can make up for the fact that they’re not with you anymore. The feeling of missing them feels stronger than whatever happiness you lived while you were with them, and it goes on, unlike your unchanging memories. And all of this piles up, and all of the time you’re apart piles up, increases, and eventually the time it’s been since you’ve seen them is longer than all of the time you spent together. And the little caricature of them in your memory changes, and surely they have, too, and you wind up having a memory of no one you’ve ever met; a stranger in your mind and in reality.
Nothing but togetherness will ever fix anything. People change together and apart and yearly or monthly or daily updates are not enough to hold onto any relationship. You must be together, see each other, touch each other, laugh with the same air. Everything else is distance, everything else is change, everything else is an extension of what use to be, carried across lakes or mountains or countries or years.