Here’s what I did, desperate to talk to her:
On December 24, 2012, nine months after her death, I created an email account in my mother’s name and started writing her.
I emailed when, in the old life, I would have picked up the phone and dialed her number because I wanted to talk.
59 emails in all. Curious how this about equals the frequency of our calls in a year – we talked at least once a week. A rhythm carried on.
Most of the emails are long and meandering, as the phone calls used to be. Mama would call this: Vom Hölzchen aufs Stöckchen kommen, or wandering from sprig to twig, something we both loved. Like talking while going for a walk in the woods.
Some emails are more personal than anything I would ever have said on the phone, death dismantling any pretense.
Once I had created it, I never checked my mother’s mailbox. It was hers after all.
My latest and last email to her I started teasingly: “How come you never write back?” After sending it on January 2, 2014, I received a “delivery status notification (failure)” from the postmaster and decided I better take a hint. A year of writing and sending emails to my dead mother, or rather an inactive mailbox in her name, ought to be enough.
This clearly meant: The dead will never start communicating by email. Their means are other. So stop writing into a void. Find yourself an audience among the living.
In search of it, I’m entering the blogosphere.