When I think of a phone call that means something to me, I think of a voicemail from Mike. I found it sometime after Mike passed away, still sitting in the in-box on my phone since the day he left it, Aug. 8, 2018.

J. Lauren Sangster has been making copies of her late husband’s photographs and giving them to others to whom he was close. Photo by Mike Sangster

For a while I listened to the words, “I saw you tried to call me but I was on the phone … umm, give me a call back if it’s anything urgent. OK, take care … love you,” a few times a day to hear Mike’s voice and his Scottish accent (which was heaven for me to hear). The sound of Mike speaking those simple words soothed my hurting heart.

On July 10 I met with someone Mike was fond of, who was also fond of Mike, because of their shared, intense love of music. I wanted to give Peter something of Mike’s that he could have to remember their bond. He chose a T-shirt that had a band name on it that meant a great deal to him, based on his recent travels abroad. I gave him some CDs as well.

Mike was an avid amateur photographer. I’ve made copies of some of his pictures and have been gifting them to anyone who wants them. I feel it honors Mike when someone wants one. I was thrilled when Peter chose three to take.

As I was talking with Peter we discussed the year we’d each moved to Maine. I remembered that July 10 seven years ago was the day Mike and I arrived here from New York. I’d poured Peter a glass of water and nearly stumbled walking toward him when I realized the date. The unexpected memory caught me off guard. Kind Peter understood and didn’t make a fuss when he noticed the near water spill. I was grateful.

That night I drank Prosecco, a favorite summer drink for Mike and me, and remembered the day like it was yesterday. Our trucking company told us the furniture wouldn’t arrive until the next day. We’d rented an apartment at Back Bay Tower for a year to be sure we really loved Maine before deciding to buy a home (we learned quickly we had nothing to worry about). That evening we watched a beautiful sunset from our corner window – no furniture to obstruct the view! We drank Prosecco with a picnic of meats, cheeses and fruit, and later fell asleep in our makeshift bed on the floor, our dog Clara by our side.

I awoke this July 11 feeling sadness from the realization of the day before. I remembered Mike’s voicemail and listened to it again. I wanted to hear his voice, even if only speaking those mundane words. I needed my mind to feel soothed.

Our dream of a life out of the big city of New York was so vivid seven years ago. I am now trying to piece together a new dream for myself, to travel and experience life in a different way. It will be my new way to self-soothe.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: