The Words We Leave Behind

Yesterday I retrieved a new voicemail from my phone.  Because I’m one of those people who often saves voice messages, and because the 21 day time limit had elapsed, it was necessary to cycle thru all saved messages to get the new one.

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Normally, without listening, I just press 9 to save and move on.  For some reason, I listened to each one.

There are several from my sons.  All four of them.  I used to have a saved message from April 2007, just prior to one son’s military deployment.  It was accidentally deleted last year and I cried a little bit about that.  He was sweet enough to leave a new message just before he boarded a plane for his 2014 deployment.  Another son lives on the other side of the country and two live only an hour and a half away… yet I’ve been known to pull out my phone and listen.  Just because.  I may hear grown-up, manly voices, but in my heart I see little ones who used to sit around my dinner table.

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Dating back a couple of years, is the voice message from a sheriff’s deputy.  My mother-in-law, who suffered from dementia, had managed to call the 911 operator and report she’d been abandoned and needed help.  She called a second time to tell them she was being held against her will.  All of this before breakfast!  When I came downstairs, she waved me into her room to talk to the “nice man on the phone”.  She had “no idea what he wants”. 

There are many details from that morning which I’ll leave out, but by the end of it I was pretty sure I was having a stroke.  The deputy called back later in the day to  1) clarify the incorrect street address I’d given him in my befuddled state,  2) to assure me everything was ok on his end, he understood,   3) to see if everything was ok on my end.  Nice guy.  Not sure why I keep that message.  Maybe to remind me I am stronger than I thought I was then.  The memory is kind of funny now.  Sad and funny.

The last three messages on my phone are from my aunt.  She died in the fall of 2013.  As they played back, it felt like she was sitting right next to me.  I’m glad I didn’t have to talk back… because of the giant lump in my throat.  She was a big part of my life, for all my life.

Her messages generally had three parts – – something funny she couldn’t wait to tell, something about me she was grateful for and how much she loved me.  The last message, just a few weeks before she died, was weak.  Some words were slurred.  But still she managed to share her good humor, her gratitude, her love… one more time.

Words.

I love to read them and write them.  I stumble some when I have to speak them.  I’m continually amazed how they can be equally hurtful and healing.  And I will always be a student of them.

But for today, I am grateful for these few recorded words… for the healing, the hope, the love.

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