Friday, September 4, 2009

audible grief

Sometime last month my boyfriend talked to our phone company - they evaluated our account and ended up granting us 3 months free long distance - I'm sure we're part of their "let's keep as many land line customers as possible" campaign. I was proud of him - it is unlike him to take such initiative. A few days ago he mentioned, "I'm sending the new modem back... they're going to credit us... we'll use the old modem... changing internet speed - will still be fast, but not quite as fast..." and that he'd they reworked our phone plan, too - but we weren't going to lose anything we already used: voicemail, call waiting, caller id, call waiting caller id... Somehow we've ended up with a year of free long distance - though I've an inkling that's a misunderstanding on his part. I wondered why he would need to rework the phone, how anything eliminated would've made a difference in cost, since all features we use and want are the big costs. I figured they must've had a price drop - again for customer retention. I wondered why he was so into talking to the phone company lately - he is not a budgeter - he is not on top of things like this.

Last night while out to dinner, I called home to check our messages - the voicemail did not pick up - I thought someone must be calling at the same time as me - this has happened before - and sometimes it's just a weird glitch. I'm amazed there aren't more weird glitches in our technological weird wonderworld. Waking up this morning to 3 calls on the caller id and no voicemail struck me as strange, but not worrisome. And then 2 missed calls this morning and no voicemail, then one while we were at dinner - all combined too unusual.

I called our home phone with my cell phone, to see if voicemail would pick up. It didn't. It rang and rang. Maybe a glitch - tried again. Three calls. Four calls. I picked up the land line, dialed "*98" - instead of hearing our names, the telephone company cyber lady droided, "Please - enter - your - TELePHONE - number". I told him. "Did you enter the number?" he asked. I dialed again, entered our number: "NOT - a - RECog-nIZED - HOME - telephone - NUMBER". "We have no voicemail" I told him, entering stunned. I felt an internal shift, down, down. Our voicemail - gone. Missed messages today - so what. A probable wait until they can reactivate our voicemail - so what. Our saved messages - gone. "Our voicemail is GONE." Shift down again: down, down, down. Bottom drop. Heartsick. Nerve endings exposed. "I had messages saved - from my grandma - from when she was 'still there". Despair bulleted through me. I unraveled from stunned composure to utter, primal grief - weighted suddenly as a sponge plunged into rank water.

My spirit crawled behind my ginger steps to the bedroom where I climbed into bed and wept. Four voice mails from Gram: two birthdays, the night the 35W bridge collapsed - her calling to make sure I was safe, and one, " I just wanted to - talk to ya" (talk-to-ya, sounding like one word). Her voice was my favorite sound in the world. She is still alive, but frail and in pain, and lifting out of her body, being taken away by disease. Just a few days ago one of her messages came up as saved ones will after 90 days - I fast-forwarded through and re saved it, thinking I would listen to it again soon - thinking for the umpteenth time that I needed to find a way to transfer it and other precious ones like it to something not dependant on a phone account - wondering for the umpteenth time if my mother, who lives an hour away and doesn't like to lend anything even if she's not ever going to use it again would part with her phone recording gadget for me to do so, and how I could transfer it to a computer sound file.

I cried gasping, weeping sobs. Eastern medicine says that mourning is held in the lungs. I am getting over another horrible yuck - same symptoms I had earlier this summer - something that took a good month or more to get over. A head cold along with scratchy throat, painful lungs, conscious of my breath - tiring easily - wheezing chest. My lungs have always been sensitive - to smoke, chemicals, allergens; it doesn't take much to trigger a feeling of heaviness. The crying has somehow pushed out some of what I was feeling in my lungs - they feel much more clear, and are no longer making the noise they were earlier today. I know I've been holding a lot of mourning in for a very long time, but especially this last year. It has been a very long, hard year, much to do with both my Gram and my grandpa.

There were other saved messages. Our friend Amanda's now 7 or 8 year old son Phoenix leaving me a message at age 2 - a gift I was going to give her. My then not more than 4 year old nephew Austin, coached by his mom, leaving me messages. My 15 and 16 1/2 year old unofficial stepdaughters in their long gone little girl voices. *Poof* I am sad for those losses, too, but not of the same resonating depth as for my grandma's voice - the voice I've known all my life, something I've not had to learn to go without. The little ones' voices were fleeting - though precious, not here long enough to cement into my self. Not a part of my identity, my feeling of love and home. Their little voices changing so gradually, morphing into who they're all growing to be. But Grandma was home to me. I loved to wrap myself in her voice. Her voice was lush and deep, soft and warm. I can call her voice up in my memory, but it's not the same as it being actually physically audible.

He's calling the phone company first thing this morning - hoping there will be some way to retrieve our messages - that the file exists somewhere within their technological loom. Oh please let it be so.

Thursday - September 10

I updated this post late afternoon that day - after having gone to bed very early morning and sleeping a few hours. I woke to a note from him saying he'd talked to the phone company - twice - who'd talked to the voicemail people - who confirmed what I knew all along - all messages lost. I did not want to write this before, hoping there might be some very slight weird loophole chance they were archived somewhere - that the person who dumps such electronic files had been sick, or hadn't gotten to ours. I wrote my heart out, and just before posting, our internet connection wavered, and I lost it all. Another lesson in the non-permanency of things created using modern technology.

I do not remember everything I wrote, but I do remember this: I woke that day very aware of my breathing - deep, clear breathing - lungs expanding with new elasticity. I have always been a shallow breather - it is often hard for me to yawn completely, to catch my breath, to fill myself completely with oxygen without conscious effort. I went to Tao Foods that afternoon and was drawn to a Chinese herb blend - my eyes went right to the bottle, before I even read the description - which turned out to be for clearing the lungs of among other things, asthmatic breath and chest fullness due to stagnated emotions. My lungs have been bothering me for a very long time.

During my first facial from a coworker years ago, I started crying. I was resting with a mask of some sort while she was doing massage. I was completely at peace, relaxed, happy. She slipped her hands between the chair and my back, continuing to massage. As her palms moved downward, I felt emotion swelling from some unknown place and started crying, completely bewildered as to why. She explained softly that she was right behind my lungs, and that our lungs are where we hold mourning.

I am happy to be breathing better and to be on my way to even more healing, but still so very sad to have lost those voice messages. I know there are far greater things I could have lost, that to many my grief may seem ridiculous. But it is mine, and I know that one of the things I also need to stop doing in order to feel better, is to not worry about what someone else might find ridiculous. And so I am still sad. Healing, but sad.