Saturday, July 24, 2010
Talking to Strangers
My older two kids have cell phones of their own and in their contact list John is "Dad" so naturally that's who they sent the message to.
In MY contact list, John is John and Dad is my dad. Yeah, I still have my dad's number in my phone. I haven't been able to bring myself to delete it. It just feels so...final...so...permanent...and I'm not ready to take that step (now or possibly ever).
Almost as soon as I realized what had happened, I got a message in reply: Is that you, Spencer?
I'm still getting used to my new phone (yay for the slide-out QWERTY keyboard!) and I sent a couple of goof texts back. So embarrassing.
Another response from the stranger: Call me.
Honestly, I was a little shaken. It's getting pretty close to the anniversary of my dad's death. I tend to think about things chronologically and often reflect back on what I was doing this time last year, or the year before, or even the year before that. This time last year I was in Arkansas taking care of my dad and getting ready to drive back to Colorado with the kids and rendevous with John for our family vacation to Durango. This time last year was H-A-R-D. Seeing a message from "Dad" pop up on my cell was unsettling and brought a flood of feelings back in an instant.
I threw my phone in my purse and kept checking things off of our errand list in an effort to distract myself. When we stopped for lunch, I pulled my phone back out to check messages and I sent the stranger a text apologizing for the messages that hadn't been intended for him/her.
Another response: No worries. I have kids who live in Colorado, recognized the area code and thought it might be them. I thought they might be trying to reach me.
Hmmmmmmm. How strange.
My dad had that cell phone number for probably 15 years. And now it belonged to some stranger in Arkansas who had kids who lived in Colorado (and in my area code).
I found that just a tiny bit unsettling. And just plain weird.
I felt compelled to respond to this stranger and tell him/her my life story. If you know me, you're not surprised. Ha! Actually, I replied and simply told him/her what happened. That I'd asked my kids to text my husband and they sent the message to their 'Dad'. That his/her number had belonged to my dad and I was not emotionally prepared to delete it from my contacts. That I was truly sorry for the misunderstanding and interruption.
To my surprise, the stranger responded again. I'm sorry to say that I accidentally deleted the message from my phone yesterday. I really meant to save it. It said something like: I am so sorry about your father and I completely understand. You have a wonderful rest of the day and may God bless you.
It wasn't earth shattering or even profound. But the words of THAT stranger on THAT day were comforting to me. Deeply comforting.
This journey of grief is so complex. There are days that I'm fine and other days that I come completely undone. The smallest of things can catch me off guard and send me spiraling into a depression that I don't even fully realize until it's full blown.
I haven't processed too much of my grief on this blog (for a couple of reasons) but I did want to share this story. It was strange and unsettling, yet also comforting and not at all random. And I'm fine that makes sense to no one else buy me.
I shared this story with some friends who suggested it was a God "hug"---evidence that God sees my heart, sees my hurt, and wanted to remind me that He cares. Hmmmmm...I believe they're on to something.