I remember a night a few years ago, when one of my good friends asked his wife, (also my good friend) how many saved voicemails she had in her cell phone. She had about a dozen, while he apparently had only two or three. At any given moment, I probably have between 11 and 22. Right now, I have 16.
Each time my Dad, or my husband, or a close friend leaves a voicemail, I save it. I’ll continue to re-save it until that person leaves another voicemail. It doesn’t really matter what the message is, and I have saved more “I’m on my way home, see you soon” messages from my husband than I can count. I need to know I have at least one message saved from each person I love.
My friend, with the large stash of saved voicemails, lost her brother just a few months after I lost Mom. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure she does it for the same reason I do.
After my Mom died, it took me a while to recognize all of the things that I lost when I lost her. There are the obvious things, like not having someone to send a card to on Mother’s Day. There were the less obvious things, like no longer having someone who would always understand and empathize with the fact that it wasn’t fair that I could still get pimples when I was starting to get wrinkles around my eyes.
And then there are the things no one can possibly tell you. Like the fact that no one would ever care as much as she would have how pretty my hair looked on my wedding day. And the realization that no matter how many photos I had (a lot) or how many pieces of her jewelry I wore to work each week (more than reasonable) there were some things that were just gone forever.
I don’t have any recording of Mom’s voice. Not one of the hundreds of voicemails she left to tell me she loved me, or ask where I wanted to eat when I came to visit. Not a single poor-quality VHS tape of her singing Happy Birthday to me or my brother. Nothing.
I would give anything to hear her say my name, or ask for a glass of water, or yell at the cat for knocking something over. No one ever tells you how much value a voice holds, and that there is nothing that will fill the void that it leaves.
So I save too many voicemails now. They are my security blanket. Because if I have them, those people can’t leave me entirely, no matter what. I will always have a little tiny something to hold onto.
And sometimes a little tiny something can be the thing that keeps you sane.