An imaginary phone call with a long lost loved one.
Ever reached for the phone, only to snap out of your daydream to remember that the person you wanted to speak to is no longer with you? The opportunity to have just one last conversation with a lost loved one haunts many of us. I recall the times I rushed through calls by saying “fine” too many times, trying to end the last few chances I’d have to speak to my mother.
For me, it’s the times the phone doesn’t ring on special occasions and when I wanted to dial and hear my mother say “hello, Scotty!” with the cheerful glee she’d have when I called.
Here’s a final conversation I’d love to have but never will:
Hello, Mum, I hope I didn’t wake you. Who am I kidding – you were always awake first. Yes, I’m fine. Actually, better than fine, thank you. Are you sure you want to hear about all my news?
Ah, I’m happy. That’s the first thing you should know. I know how much you worry about me, but you needn’t fret – everything is going better than I could have dreamed it would.
You should see your grandchildren!
You wouldn’t believe that James is now taller than me. Yes, the same baby you knitted those clunky cardigans for, the one you took to the library though he was just a few months old. He loves reading, so you can tick that off on your to-do list. He’s an amazing teen, nothing like me. No diving into Sylvia Plath and screechy music with filched cigarettes for him; he’s just a lovely young man.
Hannah? Yes, our little girl is the kind of child you’d spend hours telling your sisters about. Smart as a whip, with a wicked sense of humour. She skips everywhere and is quick to dish out hugs and compassion. She reminds me of you. Absolutely delightful.
Yes, there’s Jonah, too. You didn’t get to know him well, but you’d enjoy him. He chats away, asking endless questions. I can almost hear the cogs working in his brain. He’s competitive (dunno where he gets that!) and tough. He feels things deeply.
Karen, ah, well, you’d have loved chatting to her, with her infectious personality and ability to speak to anyone. She’s full of life and love for everyone she meets, especially me.
Me? I’d say I am happy. I know that’s all you ever wanted for me, so I think you’d be smiling to hear that. I miss being able to call you up and tell you the silly achievements we’ve made as a family, but I tell you anyway. I think I got it wrong when I was younger and you were here: I’d list off successes but forget to tell you when I screwed up.
I have screwed up. And I have missed you accepting me despite the messes I have managed to make. The things I've done would have embarrassed you, but you'd still have hugged me back into your life.
I wonder what you dreamed for me as my mother, and I think it would have looked a lot like life the way it is now. Your grandchildren send their love. We adore creating a family history with photos as illustrations.
Never getting old
There’s just too much to say right now, so I will keep whispering my news into the night sky as usual; I know you’ll hear me. I forgot! Happy un-birthday for this weekend – you’d laugh at not having to get any older but toast those of us who are.
Mum, you can rest again, hopefully with a sigh of contentment at knowing life has been good to me.
Goodnight, Mum. Sleep tight.
Saudade: “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament", OED.
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What do you wish you could say to a lost loved one?