Wednesday, November 16, 2005

We Can't Come To The Phone

Dear Rach,

You spoke to me yesterday. It wasn't in a dream and it wasn't simply your voice inside my head. And, no, I wasn't imagining it. I honestly heard your voice loud and clear with my own ears. Actually, it was with one ear. I happened to be calling Shaylyn to tell her about our first snowfall this winter, but she and Debbie weren't home yet.

So I got you. On the answering machine.

Debbie hasn't changed the outgoing message and I can hardly blame her. I can't bring myself to remove your name and number from my cellphone listings. I can't erase your name, address or phone numbers from my address book. I can't delete your email address in my computer any more than I could throw away the dozens of emails, letters and cards you've written to me over the years. I still have gift ideas jotted down in a little notebook (things like a Henkel Santoku Knife, amethyst earrings, vanilla-scented lotion from Bath & Body Works). Things I'd planned to buy for you for Christmas this year. I even have a birthday card I found late last winter that I thought you'd find funny and have it stashed in my desk drawer.

Everywhere I turn, there you are. I'm surrounded by beautiful pictures of you by yourself. You and Shaylyn. You and Amy. You and your dad. Even you and me (a rarity since I'm usually the one behind the camera). You and your gorgeous smile and dark brown eyes which remind me so much of your daddy's and Grams'. Not only can I not bear to remove those pictures from the refrigerator, but I've added more recent ones taken at your graduation and the days following -- when we saw you for the very last time. Ever. Will these pictures remain on our 'frig for the next 40 years, as Amy & Shaylyn's get updated? How can I bring myself to ever take them down?

I am constantly reminded of your love for me and your dad in the gifts that help make this house a home. A wooden plaque with a simple drawing of a cat to symbolize a kind-hearted woman lives here (oh, how your kindness touched me when I opened that gift!); a small ceramic birdbath that sits on a bookshelf; the "My Grandma Loves Me" frame with Shaylyn's 2nd birthday picture; the Russian nesting dolls that Maddie loves to play with ("Uncle Rod's people"); your dad's pocket watch engraved with "I'm thinking of you all the time. Love, Peachoo".

So you see, I can hardly blame Debbie for keeping you alive on her answering machine. While you were brutally taken from us on May 28th, we all refuse to erase any single part of you that remains for us to hold on to. Tightly. Forever.

I may just have to call Shaylyn in the middle of the day more often (even though I know she's at preschool). I wonder if I'll ever stop catching my breath the minute the answering machine starts to play.

Before my brain realizes it is the machine and not really you after all.

Before I realize I can't say, "Hey, Rach. Give me a call as soon as you get home. I have a couple of questions about booking your flights for Christmas. Oh, and I want to ask you about gift ideas for Shaylyn. Love ya! Bye."




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