I’ve spent all week thinking about what I want to say this year. Something about loss and love and family and all that good stuff Hugh Grant mentions at the beginning of Love Actually. The problem is…loss is such a fucked up thing to deal with. There’s no right or wrong way to cope, no manual (unfortunately) there’s just a day later and then a week later and, miraculously, a year later and then suddenly, two.
I have twenty-six years of Abigail stories. Some of them I’ll share willingly: days at the farm, nights in college, hospital rooms. Some will end up blended into fiction—anecdotes, quotes, quirks—you can find them already if you know where to look. Some stories I’ll never tell.
But here’s one I will share and it’s important so pay attention:
In November of 2014, Abigail texted me asking if I had Snapchat. I responded I didn’t—memory is such a weird thing because for absolutely no reason I remember that exchange very clearly—I typed out my response and thought to myself, “I should call her.” I didn’t. And I wouldn’t get another chance.
I think about that at least once a week.
I didn’t have anything important to share, not that it mattered. I don’t know if Abigail would have told me how bad things were (I doubt it) but still. I didn’t call.
I hate talking on the phone and I’m even worse at responding to texts and emails. If I don’t answer immediately, it’ll be at least a week…if ever. I’m not the only one. We remind ourselves and it just doesn’t happen and we understand when others do it to us because we’ve all been there. The world, in all its cruelty sometimes, continues spinning and life goes on.
So, here’s the thing: if you’re thinking about calling someone, reaching out, do it.
Call your friends. Your aunts and uncles and cousins. Definitely call your parents. Absolutely call your grandparents. Shit, call your enemies just to confuse them. There will be a last time, a last chance. You’ll look back and think, “Why didn’t I just call?” and you won’t have a good answer. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell them that—“I don’t know why I’m calling”—I guarantee you’ll find something to chat about. Text, if that’s your jam. Swamp their inbox, their snapchat, their Instagram, their Facebook, who cares. Just do it.
I am 400% not the role model for dealing with loss but I’m learning in fits and starts. So take a lesson from me: pick up the phone.