There had to be thousands of messages in the chain he was scrolling through….. and he missed receiving them. Those silly emojis that she’d used. The crazy conversations of emojis alone that they’d both understood perfectly. Messages that would ping into his phone at all hours of the day and night. Random and bizarre. Short and sweet. Occasionally an annoyance. … an annoyance he now sorely missed.
For two long weeks the thread had been virtually silent. All the recent messages had been one way. All of them had been his.
With a sad smile, he looked at the last one he’d received from her
Beach time 🙂 🙂 🙂
Have fun 😎 Be careful 😀
She’d never reached the beach that day.
It was a news report shared on his timeline by a mutual friend that had delivered the news of the accident. The brief report had made his blood run cold.
Those first few days had been touch and go. From a distance, he’d waited for news, thankful that his sister-in-law was a nurse in the ICU. He’d made every excuse he could to visit her at work that week. Offering her lifts, coming into the hospital to let her know that he was there, hoping to seize the opportunity to visit Room 5.
The opportunity finally came three days after the accident. He’d arrived early to collect his sister-in-law from her last in a run of night shifts and, needing to confide in someone, he’d told her the gist of his friendship with the patient in Room 5. Luck had been on his side. There was no one sitting with her.
For less than ten minutes he was allowed to visit in secret. They had been the shortest ten minutes of his life. She had looked so peaceful, despite the tubes and IVs and the incessant bleeping of the machines keeping her alive. Nervously, he’d held her hand and talked to her. He’d kissed her on the forehead before he’d slipped unseen from the private room.
Now, ten days later, he couldn’t remember a word he’d said but he could’ve sworn that she had squeezed his hand ever so gently. Wishful thinking? A reflex reaction? He’d never know for sure but it made it easier to bear if he kept believing that she’d known he was there.
It was after that that he’d started to message her again. Short messages. His usual random messages as if nothing had changed.
What a shitty day!
Car broke down again. Hate buses 😥
Night. Sleep well 😉
Long day. Work’s fried my head 😕
And so they went on……
The day he heard that he’d lost her forever, he’d sent another message
Even though he knew she was gone, he’d kept messaging her. He could see on his phone that they were all unread but sending them, holding onto the connection, eased the searing pain of his unspoken grief.
After the funeral service, he’d messaged her again.
You’d have hated that! SO not you! Not one song that you’d have picked ha ha :’)
Now a week after he’d said his final goodbye alongside her family and friends, he sat on the wall looking out over the river in his lunch hour, scrolling back through their message conversation. Re-reading some of the old messages made him smile, triggering memories of happier times. In the mix of short text and emojis, her personality was still alive.
In his heart and his head, he knew he couldn’t keep messaging a ghost. He had to stop …. but he didn’t want to. Then he began to worry that her family might be able to read the message chain. A wave of panic washed over him. Silently, he prayed that she’d been as careful with their messages as he had.
What happened to folk’s social media after they died? Would her timeline just sit there growing old and out of date? Would it be deleted and be gone forever?
A swift Google search informed him that nothing would happen to it until the family reported her death to the host site. Knowing how thorough her family could be, he guessed that the death would be reported sooner rather than later and the account “memorialised”. That at least would be something to hold onto in the darker moments of the days and weeks to come.
He had to let go. He had to say goodbye.
With a heavy heart, he typed one final message.
Miss you 😥
He hit send then stuffed the phone back into his pocket. Time to get back to work.
As he walked across the car park, his phone vibrated twice.
Pulling the phone back out, he glanced at the screen.
One notification. One message.
The notification was the change of status of her account to “memorialised” and her friends list had all been notified.
His heart sank.
The message almost made him drop his phone. It was from her! How? Why? His mind raced. Rationalising things swiftly, he deduced it must have been stuck as a draft and the suspension of her social media account had triggered it to send.
He opened it.
❤ U x