November 12, 2011

Caught off guard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:11 pm by letterstoelias

I had planned to write about something else tonight.  Photo at the ready, and a little story about hidden treasures of you around the house that are still yet to be found.

Then, as I was clearing through some old photos (none with you I could remove from my computer, even though they are stored in a few other locations as well), I saw a series of short videos.

Christmas 2005.  E’s first Christmas.

On the screen all you could see was my sister and Mira (along with the remnants from a busy Christmas morning).  I’m certain I noticed your knee in the background, but didn’t put 2&2 together of what I may see/hear once I hit play.

An 8 second video.  You were talking to John about printer ink.

But, the subject was irrelevant and so was the length.  I heard your voice.  I heard you.  Instant tears.  Instant.

I watched the other two – a 13 second video also talking about he printer, and the final one 50 seconds long talking about someone your age, and then talking to Duffy.

You were not visible (aside from your knee) in any of the videos, but didn’t matter.  It’s rocked me.

It’s been so, very long since I’ve heard your voice.  I miss it beyond words.  I played the videos a number of times over, just to hear you ask Duffy where is toy was, to say how old your friend was.  How the quality something you printed wasn’t that great.  How expensive the ink was.  Just to hear your inflections, pauses, mannerisms.

A phone call interrupted the teary downfall, thankfully from Caroline who understood once I choked out to her why I sounded as I did.  But the physical pain that pierced my heart once again resides there now as I write this.  Missing you, so terribly.

I know this could be seen as a hidden treasure too.  I do love to hear your voice, regardless of what it’s about and I am glad to have these to be able to go back to when ready (now that I know they are there).

Some of these treasures are just easier to take than others, especially when you’re caught off guard.


P.S.  I Love You



  1. megan said,

    I have videos other people took of matt, and I have the tapes he made – an audio journal for himself – on his cross country road trips. I have one of his last voicemails to me on audio tape. They terrify me. I can’t listen. I can’t watch. To choose to dive in to his voice, to see him – I can’t even TYPE the thinking about it without crying. All of that to say – yup. I hear you. Both a sucker punch and a sweetness.

    • letterstoelias said,

      A sucker punch indeed. I forgot to include in the post that about a year and a half ago I decided to try to watch our wedding video . . . I had seen it so many times and remembered it so well I figured it was familiar enough I could find a way to handle it. The first frame with him in it and I hit pause. To see him moving and talking….

      After a lot of sobbing, catching my breath and trying to decide if I should continue or not, I did. It was terribly difficult in many ways – there were a few other times I hit pause and almost stopped – but I was glad to do it too. Somewhere I also have a bunch of video from a trip to Europe we took almost 9yrs ago but I haven’t even begun to think of watching those as I don’t remember what’s on them at all (I’m not sure we even watched them once after getting home from the trip!.

      Like so many of the things on this road – a double edged sword. I’m glad you have those tapes, whether you ever decide to listen to them or not. I’m glad to have these little videos, even though there isn’t much too them, just for the girls to be able to hear him again one day too. But, yeah. The ‘surprise’ of it is so hard to take.
      Thanks Megan ❤

  2. Debbie said,

    Hi Chels,

    I sure get this. Being caught off guard happens so much less often these days that when it does, it rocks the foundation. Last week someone reminded me of something Austin did that last morning of his life, while he was having a heart attack, unbeknownst to us. I just about fell out of my chair. I’d forgotten, and it just brought the grief rushing back.

    Videos are such a sweet and painful thing. Leading up to the first year mark I couldn’t get enough of hearing his voice and seeing him move. I copied a few home movies onto DVD, we watched them at our little gathering on March 20, 2010 and I would repeatedly watch the few moments when we were on our boat, he was at the tiller and looked down at the camera I was holding and said “hello love”. I also transferred out wedding video from VHS tape to DVD. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Then life got busy, as it does, I didn’t have time to put any more movies on DVD and I stopped watching the DVD. Now the thought of hearing his voice gives me panic attacks and I totally avoid the videos. I know I need to get the tapes onto DVD’s as they are degrading but I can’t bare the thought of doing it. Maybe I’ll try and find someone else to do it so the boys have them when they get older, and so I can watch them and relive our sweet memories, when I’m ready. Hopefully that day will come again. Isn’t grief weird?

    Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday with your girlies!

  3. Mel said,

    Thinking of you, dear friend. So much tough stuff. xoxo

  4. Cathy said,

    I’m getting all the videos we took of babies 1-2-3 and everything in-between set to DVD soon, I’m taking them to a guy here in calgary who does that service. then I am going to drop off the DVD to grandma’s house and let the boys watch there. When I’m ready I can watch – one day. I have one or 2 on u-tube (which was ‘just’ getting popular in 2007) of him with the boys (I will send you the link) and have watched them a thousand times. They don’t change, they keep the same, just like the photos. I can’t turn around and see the 41 year old man, I see a 37 year old boy in these videos and it makes me feel old. ancient, ragged and sad. He looks so young. Debbie, I understand about the panic attack. Yuck.
    Printer ink & toys, conversations about nothing – shots of knees and nothing – just the voiceover commentary… to get those banal moments back again. That is what grief is, and will continue to be, re-married, not.. it is still there every day. love to you!

  5. Shannon said,

    HI you!

    I know it’s not the same thing but, my brother and I have been estranged for a little over two years and we finally spoke again last month.

    After we got off the phone I called my best friend in tears and she was wondering if the conversation had gone badly and the content didn’t matter at that point.

    What mattered was hearing that voice. A voice I’ve known since my birth. No matter how poorly we’ve always gotten on, my big brother is someone I have stored in my DNA and so hearing him again after that length of time and knowing his voice soooo well and the inflections and how he clears his throat and the things we share in how we speak simply from growing up together …

    yup. i was a sobbing wreck.

    So I can totally imagine how hearing Elias rocked you. It’s precious to have those tapes but also heart wrenching too I bet.


    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Shannon – for some reason I didn’t see this comment in my inbox, so I just saw it now . . . always nice to hear from you! I can imagine hearing him again after years would have made a huge impact on you. Something about knowing the voice so very well, makes it all come rushing back, that’s for sure.

      Take care,

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