Who Remains In Your Address Book?

I consider myself a middle of the road techie; I understand some of the current trends but lack technological skill with some of it.  I have an iPhone, use Twitter, manage a blog and I have a personal and professional Facebook page.  On the other hand, I can’t seem to synch my husband’s calendar onto my phone, or figure out the concept of the “cloud.”  

You probably won’t be surprised then to hear that I still have an old-fashioned address book, the 3-ring binder style that was so popular 15 years ago when I purchased it.  You can trace my history of friends and family members by those who have been crossed out and whose addresses have been updated multiple times.

My first New Year’s goal was to get rid of the paper trail, getting my family and friend’s addresses and phone numbers into my phone’s contact list.  What seems a mundane task proves another grief session, a journey back in time as I read the names on the pages.

Time changes everything and there is evidence in my address book.  There are names of those who are no longer here on Earth, whose passing creates a void in my contacts’ list.

There are many others whose names I don’t even recognize anymore and I realize our connection was weak and therefore short-term.

Grief comes when I see the names of those who meant so much at one time but whose names I will not transfer into my phone.  We have lost track, gone our separate ways after my husband’s death altered our relationship.

I think grief has robbed me of many of the people in my address book.  Maybe it was my grief that was too intense for them to bear as they processed their own.  Or was it me that pulled away as I created a new life for myself?

The reality is that nothing remains the same after a loss and this address book is a stark reminder of that.  People come, people go and our relationships with them ebb and flow throughout a lifetime.  Grief is a deal changer, an altered state for all relationships.

Subsequent losses occur when a loved one dies – that is why I find myself re-grieving as I turn the pages and transfer names into my phone.

Did you start the journey with me and have your name in my phone when my husband died or did you start the journey but got sidetracked by the grief?  Is your name still in my phone book?  If so, I thank you for going through the trenches with me and I am grateful that your name transferred over into my iPhone contact’s list.  The old, paper one is gone!  Life like technology continues to change.



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12 Responses to Who Remains In Your Address Book?

  1. Pam Benson says:

    So interesting! After my mother died, I saved her address book with it’s pretty maroon leather cover, and still have it. I love looking at her handwriting (she was a “lefty” and often told me stories of the nuns in grade school forcing her to use her right hand!) and the names she added, including birthdays and anniversary dates. She also kept track of who she invited to parties and who attended. So many of the people listed are gone now, but the memories remain.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Handwriting is so uniquely individual and it is wonderful that you saved your mom’s book – a great way of looking back. Wow, what an organizer she was, are you like that?

  2. keeyo77 says:

    Kathy-I really connected with this. I have never deleted my aunt’s contact information from my phone (3 phones ago) because I just couldn’t bear erasing her from my life. She died in 2003 and I was so close to her. I can’t cross her off my address book either. I have saved cards and letters from her (as well as my grandmother) because that is tangible proof that her life mattered to me. I had no idea I was so sentimental. I’ve moved about 4-5 times since she died.

    • Greet Grief says:

      I think it is interesting to know that the ordinary parts of us – our voice, our handwriting, our notes hold so much meaning for others. I am sure it was hard to lose your aunt and grandmother but their influence on your life remains forever. Thank you for sharing!

  3. niachick says:

    I’m certainly hoping my number is part of your new technological advancement!!! I think you know that we don’t have a land line anymore so you can remove that if you haven’t already and I think you have both mine and Frank’s cell phone numbers. It’s funny that you’re talking about this paper phone book. Frank doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, so “synching his calendar” is not a term that he’s familiar with and he would most likely envision “synching” as “sinking”. Thus we have paper calendars and a spiral address book. It has numbers and addresses in it from both of our “other” lives. Amazing to look through it and imagine where some of these folks are now. I remember moving once a year when I first moved out from my parents. My sisters and my parents had a phone book just for me. I must’ve moved 25 times in my past life. I’ve been in the same place now for 15 years. Stability. I love it. And I love my smart phone with all my contacts. Less paper, more space.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Yes, your numbers are present and will be forever. Good one about the “sinking” – Frank remains true to what works for him! I also had to laugh at wandering Jill who moved 25 times, wow! That’s not imaginable for a girl who has lived within 20 miles of home all her life 🙂

  4. mrsmunger says:

    It’s so odd that you would write about this because I recently picked up my beloved address book that I began filling up 34 years ago when I got married. It’s extremely beat up and the cover fell off a long time ago. I have no idea what happened to it. I purchased a brand new, contemporary one a few years ago that included spaces for cell phone numbers and email addresses – things that did not exist 34 years ago. I intended on transferring info from the old one into, but never got around to it. I found it again at the beginning of this new year and decided that this was it, it was time to finally make the switch. So I got myself comfy at the dining room table with both books in front of me and a decent pen to begin the deed. As I started paging through the old one I was struck by how many of the names were no longer eligible for the new one. Most were relatives and friends that had passed away. It was sad to see the dates of their death penciled in next to birth dates, wedding anniversary dates, divorce dates, names & birthdates of kids. Others listed in the book were long gone out of my life for one reason or another. I realized that the address book had become a journal of sort and I wasn’t ready to give it up. It held too many memories. At that point, the incentive to fill up the new book with current addresses had wandered off, so once again it sits on my desk buried under stuff. I wonder how many more names will be crossed out the next time I find the new address book and get the urge to fill up its blank pages?

    • Greet Grief says:

      Yes, a journal of sorts you are right! There will continue to be names that are crossed out but also names that are new with the potential to be forever friends. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jenny!

  5. Morguie says:

    Here’s a different angle: what about those last ‘voice message?” I have seen many in angst over losing those phone messages about ordinary, mundane things….they have managed, some of those folks, to keep them for years…only to break the device or lose it, or upgrade..and lose that last message…and it has been described as a loss beginning again. What do you think of that situation?

    • Greet Grief says:

      I totally remember that I kept my husband’s voice on the message for the longest time because I wanted a man’s voice on the machine – feeling vulnerable as a now single woman! I didn’t often call my house but for those who did, many of them felt so sad every time they heard Chris’ voice that I finally removed it. True to my caregiver personality I guess. But I still have the tape in a box in the basement and think now that it has been so many years, would it be painful to hear his voice again or a gift? Technology wise, I’m not sure what I would have to do to make that happen – so what next??

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