While this is unusually dark, especially on the Eve of Christmas, it is true. I keep the emails of a dead man. I am technically locked out of this email account. I cannot get new emails, and I cannot send them out. My inbox stays in this weird limbo from the last few years. I can delete the app off of my phone, but then where would his emails go? They would sit somewhere on the internet waiting. Waiting for what, I’m not sure. Waiting to be remembered, possibly.
I spent some time with a friend who had to leave her last home pretty quickly. She had to do an inventory and mass haul of all of her belongings. What she could not fit in her room, she could not keep. She told me she was glad to get rid of it all. “I’m typically a very sentimental person when it comes to particular stuff, but I realized I was just collecting junk.” I came home after visiting her and thought maybe I had collected junk along the way too. You’d be surprised at all the things you pick up and hold for “someday.” Someday never comes, and instead those things sit and wait to be used.
But those emails. What do I do about those? I can clean out my kitchen, library, and every bedroom. But what do I do with those things that can’t be donated? The contents in those emails do not exceed 150 words. They are not particularly substantial, yet they remain.
I have made a graveyard out of my inbox. At some point, the recipient was responding and aware and here. To remind myself of that person, that dead man who I keep emails of, I hang on to my graveyard inbox, visiting on occasion at the witching hour when I cannot sleep.
During this holiday, I am grateful for the family I have, the family I love and know and celebrate. I am also aware of the family that is not here, the absent ones whose pictures I have hanging around my home and emails I refuse to delete. As I get older, I try harder and harder to balance the reality of a changing world with the magical wonder Christmas promises. Every year, that balancing gets harder, but I believe I get rooted firmer in love, which, in my opinion, is an unchanging reality.