It is funny how much we tend to over-look so many things in life – things that are so matter-of-fact which exist in our daily lives yet we may take no notice of their significance until something happens to remind us of their existence.
I am referring to the topic of telephone answering machines. We simply take it for granted that the person leaving an outgoing message when they aren’t home, a simple gesture, can live on much longer than the actual person who’s voice has left that message.
My husband came home from work the other day and instead of being in his usual jovial mood when he returns from work, he appeared to be flustered and distracted. When I asked him what the matter was he responded by telling me that he had tried to get in touch with his grandson that day but he wasn’t home and when the answering machine picked up, he was greeted by a message left from his daughter Sue who had recently passed away. He hadn’t anticipated hearing the sound of his daughter’s voice again and the incident had temporarily froze him in time. He sat silently then for a few moments after hearing her voice in short reminisce of his lost daughter and shed some tears. The voice from the past had certainly taken him by surprise.
After he shared the incident with me he questioned whether or not the message was a good thing to keep on the machine or if he should speak to his grandsons about changing it. As I had never been faced with this type of dilemma, I told him that his grandsons may either not be aware of it or perhaps they may be and choose to leave it on until they are ready to change it; a delicate subject at this time to bring up.
I found the whole incident haunting yet touching and I can’t even pretend to imagine what went through my husband’s mind when he was caught off guard at that moment. The incident did however bring to mind a beautiful article I had read a few months previous, written by my writer friend Elaine Mansfield who writes beautiful articles on the subject of grief and bereavement. Elaine wrote an article on a related topic when she was deciding what to do with her husband’s cellphone after her beloved husband had passed away http://bit.ly/1n4Tx41
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to answer this question. Perhaps for some of us, the sound of a lost loved one’s voice is a comfort or for others it may just reinforce or reignite the grief process.