I tried to call Jackie yesterday.
It wasn’t the first time. I’ve found myself grabbing my phone to text her more times than I can count, and I’ve hit her name on my speed dial half a dozen times since last August. I usually realize what I’ve done after a ring or two, but this time it took a recorded voice that didn’t belong to Jackie to snap me back. The number belongs to someone else now.
I’ve had to remove Jackie’s email from lots of lists…everything from my annual fundraising email blasts to evites. Every time I’ve had to delete her name, I’ve cried. But it’s had to be done. The emails bounce back, and seeing her name on an invite list would jar all of my friends. But removing her name from my cell phone speed dial is something I haven’t been able to do. I can’t even delete her voice mails.
As we come up on the fourth anniversary of Madeline’s death, my emotions are right on the surface. I’m terribly sad but lately the anger is stronger than anything else. Anger that Maddie isn’t living and experiencing new things, anger that Jackie isn’t enjoying the life she always wanted, anger that there are gaping holes in the world.
Anger that there is really, truly, nothing I can do to change it.
I want to talk to Jackie, and have her comfort me through this hellish week. I want to feel my five-year-old squirm away from too many kisses. I want to hear my kids fight, and make up, and fight again. I just…want it to be different.
Yesterday, the world lost another wonderful person to cancer, someone who was always a generous and considerate friend to me, and a strong and kind supporter of Jackie’s, too. I’m tired of the fact that people die. I hate that there’s another hole in the world. I hate that there’s another number in my phone book that will someday belong to someone else.
It should be simple to remove those numbers, but I can’t. It’s little, but it’s not. It’s too final. I’m not ready. I’d rather just be angry.
Sometimes I think this world is just too sad. I also have some things going on in my life that I would rather not be happening, and I’m also angry. So I completely understand your emotions. I’m so sorry you have lost another loved one. No one should have to have so much sadness in their lives, and I am continually in awe of your courage and strength. I hope that both you and I and so many others can find some joy in between the pain. (I know we will). I don’t know what else to say, except that I empathize.
Sigh. My siblings and I paid my dad’s cell phone bill for almost 2 years after he died, so we could call and hear his voice on his voicemail greeting. I lost all his voicemails on my phone a couple of months after he died, and that little 5 second greeting was all I had. Some days I didn’t need to call; some days, I called 4 or 5 times. I get it. I get it so, so bad, and it sucks in ways I can’t even put into words. I’m sorry. And I’m angry too. (Back up your voicemails from Jackie if you haven’t already; losing the ones from my dad was devastating…)
It took me about 2 years before I could delete my dad’s number from my phone. My mom never really used her phone so after losing her it’s mostly getting over the fact that I have no recordings of her voice at all, despite her years in radio. I have voice clips of my dad doing different accents on my phone and nearly three years since his death, I still listen to them often. My mom’s been gone 8 months and I wish I could hear her voice again. Just a simple, “I love you, my darling” as she used to say.
Getting over loss is so hard. It’s the absolute pits.
Don’t feel like you absolutely have to remove her number, and keep the voice mails – back them up if you can. I wish I had more of my parents. Keep what you can.
Not at all “little” to remove those phone numbers. It took me over six months to change “Grandma and Papa” to just “Grandma” when my Papa passed away. (Ironically, if I start dialing their number manually rather than pulling it up in my Contacts list, it STILL reads the old way … sort of feel like my grandpa is saying “hi” every time that happens.)
Of course do whatever YOU need in your grief/healing, but I think, no need to delete the number yet and no need to ever delete the voicemails.
I haven’t been able to delete my dad’s phonenumber either, or remove his name from their homenumber. It’s been 9 months since he died, and it still takes my breath away whenever my sister or stephmom call me from home. It hurts like hell every single time, but I just can’t bring myself to delete his name.
Thank you for making me feel a little less stupid and alone…
I am so sorry you have to cope with yet another loss. Sometimes the world really really sucks!
I’m so Sorry Heather….I’m just so so SORRY!!! I wish they were both here with you as well. Life can be so cruel. It’s not fair. It’s okay to be angry – both of your loves were taken far too soon. How could you not be so sad and angry about that?! Sending you lots of love and please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
The phone I had when my niece died is tucked away in a safe place. I have happy text messages all they way up to the day she died from my sister and then I have the sad texts. It’s before and after and I never want to forget before when everything was ok! That phone is priceless to me!!!
My mother died 9 years ago. I still haven’t removed her number from my contact list, and I won’t tell you how many phones I’ve had in that time. It’s not pretending she is here, and I never make the mistake of trying to call her these days, but if her name wasn’t there, I wouldn’t see it as I scrolled through my contacts. And it’s just a tiny way that I wouldn’t think of her as often. By leaving her in, it’s a way of saying she existed and she mattered to me and I’m glad to be reminded of that.
My mom died seven years ago. She’s still in my cell-phone. There’s something too final, too deliberate about deleting it; I just can’t do it. I’m not willing to not have her on speed dial, even if I know she will never be able to answer.
My friend Ben took his life when he was 19. For months I called his number to listen to his voicemail. I was devastated one day when another voice answered the phone. The number wasn’t his, anymore. It will be 5 years this May, and I still have the phone with saved text messages from him, though I did eventually delete his number.
I had to.
I don’t think there’s anything abnormal about your hesitation to delete those things. I would be the same way. Do it when you’re ready.
I am inspired by your courage to say with such force how angry you are. I’m angry too, with you and for you. Like the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem “Dirge without Music”: “I am not resigned.” http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Poetry/Millay/Dirge_without_Music.html
I was just reading Jackie’s Caring Bridge — I’m sure the timing isn’t coincidental. Hugs to you all.
I get it. I still have my sister’s last text messages and pictures on my phone, none are of her, but the fact that they are there helps. I don’t know what to do with them and I know I just can’t delete them, I just get stuck when I look at them. Many hugs, we could all use more of those.
I completely understand. I tend to delete voicemail messages as soon as I have listened to them, so I don’t have any of the messages that my late husband had left on my phone. If I had been thinking, I would have recorded his voicemail greeting so I at least had a recording of his voice. His number is still in my phone, but under a different. My brother and I share a cell phone plan (we did this even before my husband died) and he took my husband’s old number so it would “stay in the family.” The first few times I called it, I was surprised by my brother’s voice on the other end. I still smile and think of him every time I call my brother.
Thank you for being honest. Many of us feel this way, but aren’t willing to admit it, sometimes not even to ourselves. I think the way you are able to address your feelings and be so honest with yourself and all of the people on the internet is inspiring.
I’m so sorry Heather. Giant hugs. This week already sucks. It doesn’t need any help. With the news of Dawn’s passing yesterday it just made it suck even more.
I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot this week. Remembering Maddie and holding you all close in my heart.
I know exactly what you mean. My friend died quite suddenly in a ski accident last week in Utah. I had been texting him about two weeks before but one random night I just went through and deleted all my messages. I wish I still had that last conversation that I had with him. If I did, I don’t think I could ever erase it.
My acting coach, who was also a dear friend of mine, passed away in 2010. I still have his phone number in my phone. I still have his birthday in my phone (it’s hard to forget because it’s 2 days after mine). I wish I had a last voicemail or text message from him.
I also still have my great-aunt’s info in my phone as well, and she passed away in 2011.
Getting rid of them in my phone just seems wrong. I like having them there as a reminder of all the good times that I had with them.
When my friend Adele died of ovarian cancer in 1999, I used to call her work number, just to hear her voice. Eventually, the message got changed and I felt like I’d lost the last piece of her. I wish death was reserved for the elderly.
Thinking of you, Mike, Maddie and Annie during this week. Thinking of Jackie!
Thinking of your friend Dawn.
It sucks that the ones we love have to leave so soon.
It’s been 8 years since my mom died. She is still in my phone (and I have had many new phones since her death). There is nothing wrong with keeping Jackie in your phone. And please, don’t think you need to delete her voicemails – I would love to have any voicemails from my mom, and I’m sure you will feel similarly down the road.
I still have my husband’s grandmother’s number on my phone. I loved her so much that I can’t bear to delete it and it’s been 8 years.
I found this great software that downloads voicemails from iphones and thought you may want to use it to download those precious messages, god forbid that anything happens to the phone. http://www.digidna.net/diskaid
Kathy Shipstad says:
I understand your anger. I to have many gaping holes in my life.
I’m sorry for all your losses! I lost my dad unexpectedly three years ago this month and I still have his number in my phone. I’ve gotten two new phones since he died and still transfer it over. I’ve never dialed it, but for some reason I keep it there.
My friend Doug died from a sudden heart attack on August 4, 2012. He was 49. I saw him the night before, we worked together, sat next to each other. Talked and planned about him getting a booth together for the next Steel City Con. Talked and flipped through the Ikea catalogue and looked at this purple chair that was perfect for his living room he and his partner of 12 years, Troy, were redoing. As we left work that night, he said “love you babe see you tomorrow!”
I got a call that morning he died.
It’s been 8 months and I still have his number in my cell. I can’t delete it. Steel City Con is this weekend. (It’s every 3-4 months here). I didn’t go to the one in December because I was too upset, but I’m going on Sunday, we’re going to toast to Doug.
I understand how it hurts seeing the messages, the voicemails, the pictures. It took me a year to delete my grandma’s number. When will I delete Doug’s? I don’t know. I need to update my cell phone and I’m scared if I do it won’t transfer his number. Stupid I know.
I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay to be angry and it’s okay to not want to delete things. We all understand and we all love you.
This is maybe a little bit twisted, but there’s been so much loss in my life these last years that I hang on to old voicemails…just in case.
You are honest, and it fuels me.
oh god i didn’t know about dawn. how could i not know? fuck.
thank you for writing about wishing you could hear your kids fight. love to you, all my love, heather. like always. xxxxxxxxx
Allison Zapata says:
I love you, firl. Always here to hold your hand. xo
I send my mom emails all the time.
Thanks for this post, Heather. I enjoy your blog so much – the pics of Annie are such a bright spot on the internet! Another thing I love about your blog is your honesty. I’ve had a hard week of bad news and anniversaries of loss and this blog post was really good to read. It’s so freeing to be able to just say that life sometimes just sucks. I’m so sorry about your friend Dawn.
I completely understand this feeling – I feel that it has to be so normal. I still have my father in law and my Gram’s number in my phone with their picture, even though I can’t call them anymore. I hate death too. Sending you a virtual hug.
I understand…I even hate that her number was reassigned…how could they?!?
I’m so sorry about your friend Dawn.
It seems as though each week my list of those who are sick (mostly with cancer or autoimmune diseases) that I remember and hold in hope for recovery and healing grows…and I hate it!!!!
Sending you love.