In a recent post I told you my wife is a reflective person and, as such, using an application on her smartphone, she captured her memories of living with, caring for and laying to rest our dear friend Loretta. When we got new smartphones, she entrusted caring for those memories to me, her reflective but also techie-geeky husband. And I failed. Shortly after we got another ( the second one after the one on which she collected her memories ) smartphone, she asked if I could retrieve those memories for her. I was unable to do so.
Writing about that failure, and sharing it with you, helped some, but it didn’t help Ellie. Her memories, as she captured them in real time, were gone. Forever. That grated on me. Not only my failure as the person she trusted to secure them, but also it hurt to see her missing them, mourning them, knowing how I’d feel if some material I had poured my soul into had ‘gone missing.’
Because of that I was unable to go to my office and just do my work. I had to put aside the failure to find Ellie’s memories and work, and had to keep putting that failure aside, as it kept coming back to me … as its own memory, if you can stomach the unintended pun.
I searched again, my email files, my backups, Ellie’s email files, the various ways we had at the end of 2015 to share files between our smartphones and more conventional computing equipment. I did this very unsystematically … befitting a desperate search.
I realized at some point that my searching took me into mail files that were 2014 vintage and before, and into backup sets that were at least that old. “You idiot,” I thought, “the file is not even two years old! The data were created in mid-2015 and ported to somewhere else late the same year. Less than two years ago!” Realizing I was failing to find a file that I had stashed somewhere less than two years ago affected me in an unusual way … I was appalled that I was unable to find such a relatively new file and I was sure that it must be easy to find.
Yesterday I again searched my email … only this time, I did not search electronically, I scrolled a list, visually inspecting it. Ellie prodded me to secure her memories when we secured our new phones in the latter part of 2015. I found the archive file that included the last four months of that year, and, starting earlier in the year, began scrolling the list. September … nothing of note. October … same. November … suddenly, there it was! An email with an attachment that seemed to be what I was looking for.
I excitedly opened it. As soon as it opened, I was reading what I knew were the memories Ellie had written almost two years ago. I quickly saved the file in a location I knew I would not lose it again. “Be still, my heart!”
Ellie was not home; I couldn’t immediately share the joy of finding this with her, but I could surprise the bejesus out of her. “Won’t she be thrilled,” I thought. I went to her computer, opened Word, navigated to the file and opened it. I left Word open on the first page and returned to my computer in my office. “The moment she looks at her computer, or moves her mouse to unlock the computer, she will see that and be thrilled.”
I began writing this story; Ellie returned home shortly. “Hi, I’m home!”
“Welcome back … love you!”
I knew it likely she’d greet then feed the cats, sit in her chair and, using her phone, check and reply to emails, respond to moves in Words with Friends and Boggle with Friends, and perhaps not look at her computer for a long while.
I couldn’t stand it; we exchanged texts:
I: “You there?”
She: “Yes, why?”
I again: “Check your computer.” I didn’t add, “I found it!!”
Soon enough she called to me and we were together, talking about my redemption. “That’s all I could think of when you told me to check my computer, but I couldn’t dare hope.”
In my defense, the file is not what I ever looked for when searching electronically. The subject of the email and the filename of the attachment is memoires.docx. The file does not contain her memoires; ‘memories’ is what I looked for.
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