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I call dead people
Well, just one for now.
Her absence pierces my mind like a ringing in the distance. Ignorable at first, then increasing in intensity until it’s unbearable.
The grief rushes fastest in silence. That’s when I miss her most. When my mind settles still the memory of her disarming warmth is overwhelming.
Mom is gone.
She’s not coming back.
So how is a mourning son supposed to make space for love, give a chance to happiness, and even dare to dream of joy? As a novice to grief, I turned to those more seasoned for instruction and found solace in the admission of my mom’s author friend. Having lost the love of her life, she confessed that she still calls her.
“The way I stay in touch with her is that I open up the voice app on my phone, push record, and I ‘call’ her. I usually do this when I’m out walking alone in the woods. I just start talking to her. There’s something about the act of ‘recording’ the message that makes me feel as if it’s being received.”
After nearly laughing it off, then considering it for weeks, in the middle of an easy run the pitch of Mom’s absence grew so piercing that I wanted to scream, so instead, I gave her a call. Pulling out my phone as I continued shuffling down the street, I brought up the voice record app and smacked the red circle button to start.
“Hey, sorry I didn’t call earlier,” I joked. And then began to ramble.
I recounted my son’s recent exploits and tried to explain how our family was reforming since we last spoke.
To my delight, I felt her presence.
To my shock, I could sense her interruption.
Having spent decades with her on the line, I discovered that our cadence of conversation is ingrained within me when I’m willing to welcome it.
And so I spoke, stilted at first, more flowing with time. The thought of her listening brought a smile. The knowledge of when she would have interjected made me giggle. As I shared, the tension that’d gripped my chest for months began to ease.
I even laughed.
I understand that it sounds absurd.
And realize that it’s intensely woo-woo.
But, at least for me, it’s worked.
Alone on the road, engrossed in a “call” by myself, I chuckled at the rhythm of when she wouldn’t have just sat there silently. I could hear her calling BS on something I’d just said, and I elaborated when she would have wanted to know more. I sensed her presence and could feel the familiarity of our rhythm together.
“Why should love end, why should the conversation end, just because someone has died?” the author had inquired rhetorically. And despite initial skepticism, I’ve found that I agree.
“Calling” someone who isn’t here still feels slightly absurd, yet thankfully, when I reach out, seeking the sanity provided by our connection, the reception of Mom’s love remains.
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