She was a terrible singer.

But when she called me to belt out her rendition of “happy birthday” when I turned 33 this year, the terribleness made it all the more endearing.

The other voicemail I’d saved from Mia was recorded after the last daywe spent together. She had called me to thank me for a wonderful day and to tell me how much fun she’d had.

She died about a week later.

For four months, those voicemails have been waiting there for me. I almost listened to them on her birthday in August but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I knew what they said, I’d heard them right after she originally left them, but I wasn’t ready to hear them again – now that she was gone. I wanted to save them for a time when I really needed to hear her voice, and I didn’t want to wear them out by listening to them over and over, dulling the meaning of them.

So I waited.

I saw her name in my voicemail box every time I checked it. Sometimes it made me sad, sometimes it made me smile. And I waited.

And then last week I upgraded my iPhone to IOS5. And my voicemail needed to be reset. I didn’t think anything of it.

Today I got a voicemail from Harris Teeter while I was out on my run. I was sure they were calling to tell me my online order was ready, but I was curious if there were any substitutions.

So it reminded me to reset my voicemail. I did. And then I saw the worst had happened.

Not all of my voicemails were gone. In fact, all of the other ones I’d saved were still there. There was one from Tommy about his new web site. There were a couple from my sister. One from my dad about Disneyworld. But none from Mia.

No, no, no, no, no. This can’t be happening. I checked my deleted messages. Not there. I called my voicemail. Not there. I Googled what to do. No answers. I called AT&T.

The rep was very sympathetic to my phone call, in which I sobbed to her that I needed these voicemails back because they were from my grandmother and she’d passed away. She put me on hold and said she did
what she could, but they were gone.

She said they were only supposed to keep for 14 days anyway, so I was lucky to have them for as long as I did. She asked if I’d created a backup copy, if I’d recorded them elsewhere. I  don’t even know how to
do that.

I didn’t want to hang up with the rep. That would make it final. But finally I managed to thank her, through my tears, for trying.

I called Dad. Wanted to see if he could understand what a loss I was feeling. He didn’t answer, and I didn’t want to leave a blubbering voicemail.

I texted my aunt Josie; she would understand. And of course, she did. She knew how I felt, replying “Mia got 2 b’day cards and I had to write to them to tell them she was gone. Cried all the way thru writing them.” She also reminded me of the recordings I have of Mia telling stories for her memoirs (recordings in which making backups are going to be on Jeff’s #2 list today. #1 being if he can figure out a trick the AT&T rep didn’t think of.)

Right now, more than ever, I just wished I’d listened to those messages at least one more time before they were gone. A part of me feels like I lost her all over again today.