My mom dropped her cell phone and it simply went mute. That should not be anything really. A cell phone is nothing more than “stuff” that can be replaced at any time. How the news struck me though is a different story. The way it used to be was that when no one answered your call, out went the answer machine asking you to leave a message. You usually leave your name on your cell so it would be like “X is not available at the moment. At the tone, please leave a message.” Well, X was my father and that was his voice. It was bitter sweet to hear his name each time I left a message. In a way it was a tease to have the voice remind you each and every time that he is no longer with us. “..unavailable at the moment”; ironic quite a bit, don’t you think?
In Temple Grandin, the movie, autistic Temple understood death but did not understand why people crossed by the open casket of her tutor and friend. Her mother explained that it was to pay the last respect. She followed along like the others, had a final look and then headed off to leave. The mom said that the ceremony was not over yet, but Temple said, “It is to me. I will keep him in my mind.”
Now, I did not have the privilege of having a last look, but he is all there in my mind.
I remember when I went to visit his grave in my last visit to my home country that I could not bear the fact that all I saw was the stones he was under. I wanted to visit “him” and when he was not there I simply wanted to leave because I know of way better means to connect with him without this intolerable reminder that he is simply “not available”. When our grief was very much subtle and restrained at the time of the passing, what you never realize is that the anguish and the missing never fade away.
I then started to remember our last conversation on the phone and the warm “Mahmoud” he left on the answering machine that used to stir all that in me. But like they say,you don’t know the true value of things until you lose them. I have now lost that very voice.