A few days ago, as I walked down a street, I found a cell phone on the ground. Knowing how much my life depends on my phone nowadays – seeing as I no longer know hardly any phone numbers by heart – I immediately picked it up and decided to locate the owner.

What do you do when you find a cell phone? Call the one person who will know how to find the owner, even if they don’t have the phone: Their mother.

That got me thinking about all the physical evidence of my mother’s life that surrounds me, as if I’m pretending she’s still there. Some of it has been conscious, and some hasn’t.

I cannot delete my mother’s phone number from my phone. That’s just not an option. Deleting it almost feels like disrespect. A few weeks after my mom died, I actually upgraded my phone, and all the numbers were transferred into the new phone, so I do have my mom’s number saved on the new phone, but when I was setting the speed dial numbers, I consciously had to remind myself not to set her number.

Which means everyone on my speed dial list moved up a number.

Which means I kept calling the wrong people.

Which means I was constantly reminded that I had lost my mom.

My phone isn’t the only physical reminder of my mom’s absence that I’m unable to delete or alter. My parents share(d) an email address, and it has always been labeled “Mom” since she was really the one I would email, not my dad. (Oh, how I miss writing Mom with a capital M.)

Since my mom, the in-house Internet expert, is gone, my dad calls me when he needs something done (i.e. get him a hotel room in NYC) so when I email him, my mom’s email address comes up. But before it comes up, there is a weird thought process going on:

Do I start typing “Mom” to get the email address?

Do I start typing the first letters of the actual email address so I don’t have to type “Mom?” I still see my mom’s name when I type it that way.

Do I change the label of the contact from “Mom” to “Dad?” Cause that’s just disrespectful.

Should I just demand my dad get a new email address? (Kidding… not so much?)

And then there are other small examples. Like I had a new cleaning lady when my mom was sick, but she was still fully functional, that is, she wasn’t paralyzed yet, so I would let the cleaning lady in, and my mom would lock up when she left. So I have a little post-it on my fridge that has my phone number and my mom’s phone number.

I have a different cleaning lady now, who I trust with my key, but I just can’t bring myself to remove that post-it from my fridge.

Just like I can’t delete my mom’s number from my phone.

Just like I can’t change the contact label on her email address.

I just can’t delete her from my life that way, cause even if it’s just virtual “existance,” I guess virtual is better than nothing.

Crap, now I’m crying again.