Creeping Into the Present

I hate upgrading my phone.

There is always, of course, the hassle of sifting through all the lies we tell ourselves – mainly the “I agree I have read and understand all the above terms and conditions.”  There seem to be a multitude of those with the upgrades.

The worst for the iOS 8 upgrade is the fact that I have to delete nearly every app, photo, text message, email and whatever else on the phone so I can download the upgrade…then re-load all same said photos, apps, emails and the like after upgrading my phone.  Thank you so much, Apple Corporation, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, for giving me an upgrade I’m not particularly certain was worth the hassle.

I was in the middle of this bi-annual cleanout when I hit the email section of my phone.

For some reason it brought up a search full of emails from my wife, many of whom I hadn’t remembered even exchanging with her.

2014-09-18 08.34.00

Andrea passed away 3 1/2 years ago as of this writing.

It never ceases to amaze me how, when I think I’m doing very well and her memory is not tugging at me as much as it did that grief will roll into the room like a grenade thrown by an enemy combatant.

When something like this happens, of course, the smart thing to do would be ignore it, hit the big blue cancel button, and just move forward.

But then nobody ever accused me of being smart.

I read through those messages . . . every single one of them, as a matter of fact.  I have to be honest, though, what bothered me more than reading Andrea’s words from four, five, even nine years ago wasn’t the fact that she was creeping into my present again.  What bothered me most was the banality of it all.  There were no real romantic notes.  There weren’t any “just wanted to tell you I love you” notes or anything like that.  Nothing I sent read like a love letter or loving exchange, it was very business-like.

What bothered me even more . . . was there weren’t any from her, either.

With my wife, Andrea
With my wife, Andrea

That picture is how I like to remember us.  Fall is when the temperature would change, she’d put on that brown wooley sweater, and we’d find excuses to sit next to each other or hug or what have you.  So for the temperature to finally cool down tonight and the emails to show up was just like being hit by both barrels.

The glass-half-full people around me would say this was a sign, a way to show she’s still with us and loves us and what have you.  I am taking the half-empty approach tonight and saying it’s really the last thing I needed to see today.  There have been days this week I struggled and wanted that person next to me to bounce ideas off of and help with the parenting issues I never expected to face.  Instead I was quite alone, which I have been for 3 1/2 years.  It didn’t change with some old emails.  They gave me no insight.  The subject lines didn’t spell some code with a secret answer or anything.  They were just random, old emails saying to pick up eggs, or asking if Abbi, our daughter, was staying at school for some sort of sports practice?  They asked me to remember printer paper.

At the end of most of them, from both of us, said “love you.”  That’s something at least.

2014-08-31 18.04.50

I don’t pretend this derailed the progress I or the kids have made over the last few years.  It’s just that we’ve managed to move forward pretty well this last few years.  I wasn’t avoiding the memories or the grief or the loss.  We had just learned to live with them, and live with them pretty well.

But thanks to a maddeningly tedious phone upgrade I had to deal with the explosion of memory hitting the room like an IED.

By the evening’s end I’d come to what I think is an amiable conclusion, though.  Most if not all the old emails were from an era where we didn’t use text messaging or own an iPhone or even knew what to do with social media.  Most of our interactions were in-person and far more intimate.

What I remember isn’t these old emails, which did – I can be honest – depress me a little.  But I smile just a bit when I think about the fact that we did have more personal interactions…and most of those ended with physical contact and the words “I love you.”

For that memory, dear technological terror…I thank you.

Though I still don’t understand why I now have to download all the stuff I deleted from my phone again…

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