When do you take a dead person’s number out of your phone?

On the one hand, I don’t want to delete her text messages yet (if at all). They’re like the last few cards we exchanged, even if most of them are a string of “‘How are you feeling today?’ ‘Okay.'” And if I’m going to keep her text messages, I want to keep her name attached to them with the picture of her and her little dog. I want to remember seeing her face show up when she would say how cute a picture of my dog was (or her dog, or grandpa’s dog) or when she said how nice one of my blankets or scarves looked.

By the same token, some of the ones toward the end made me feel helpless and trapped and unsure what to do. She’d tell me she was lonely. I wanted to visit more, but I had to make sure I got enough work done to be able to take care of her after the heart transplant. Briefly, when I learned we would lose her, I was so angry at myself for prioritizing work over her. Of course, that’s not what I was doing at all. I was laying the groundwork to be able to take care of her. If anything, I was prioritizing her future care over her current discomfort, and I don’t think that was a mistake. My mom used to frequently tell me that we can only do the best we can with the information we have at the time. I’m confident I did that.

But cycling back around, I don’t know when I’m supposed to delete her as a contact from my phone. I didn’t have this problem with my dad because cell phones weren’t a big thing until a couple years after he died. (As I think about it another second, I may be mis-remembering that…but no one’s left to correct me, so I guess that makes me right enough.) I suppose there’s no real reason to except that I just almost accidentally called her number, which isn’t her number anymore. I imagine the new owner calling back, and seeing that my mom was calling sounds unnerving at best.

Grandpa deleted it right away, but his eyes have gone downhill. He can’t read text messages anymore and uses his phone exclusively with Siri, who doesn’t always understand him.

I don’t know. I suppose there’s no rush. I just keep seeing her smiling face on the speed dial page, and I want to press the button to talk to her.

We really need intercoms to the afterlife. Someone should get on that.

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