This is the post that I’ve been avoiding. This is the one that’s been staring me down, the elephant in the room. This is the blog about loss. It’s about the loss of loved ones, the words that they leave behind and our enduring need to keep those words and memories close.
Last week I attended a memorial service. It was for a woman I’d known for about 15 years. She had 3 kids around the same age as mine. She woke up one day, not feeling well. A few hours later she died in the ambulance, from a heart attack, en route to the hospital. To say that her children were devastated is one huge understatement.
After the service, I managed to share a few moments with one of her daughters. Having a daughter, just the same age, I could hardly bear being witness to the grief of this lovely young woman. Her words of loss ripped me apart. How was she to carry on without her mom, a super mom, who had loved her children so ferociously? No matter that she had moved away from home, her mom was always present, always texting her words of wisdom, love, humor, and comfort as she guided them through the ups and downs and challenges of achieving adulthood.
Their closeness was palpable. She even shared with me that there had been conversations about vibrators and lube!
With trepidation, I told her about Keepster, that at the very least by using the app she could keep all her mom’s texts safe. If she wanted she could even print them into a book to share with her siblings. I felt awful, almost ashamed that at such a time it might seem that I was pushing her to use the app. But when I mentioned it, her eyes opened wide, with a look of astonishment and relief. She said I must have been reading her mind.
How did I know that losing her mom’s texts was one of her recurring fears? How did I know that she had imagined herself as a grown woman, with children of her own, keeping what would certainly become an obsolete cell phone alive, just so that from time to time she could refer to some of the great guidelines that her mom had written, teaching her how to navigate life?
She hugged me with relief. We cried some more… I didn’t have it in me to tell her that I too once had a dear friend who had passed away, much to soon, leaving behind 3 wonderful sons. She too had been an extraordinary person - so loving and so wise. She passed away just as I was starting to think about creating Keepster, and it was her loss that gave me the final push to find a way to make sure that her words could be preserved.
It’s no secret that today the struggle to preserve ephemeral, digital communications is at the forefront of many endeavors. It is the daily bread of librarians and digital archivists. There are digital legacy platforms to store digital memories and to ensure how you will be remembered. There are hard drives and safety deposit boxes to store them, or you can backup to the Cloud.
But it is my hope that with Keepster we have come up with a solid, simple solution, enabling the user to have a local backup on their computer that is always easily accessible and to create a printed book of meaningful words and photos, as a tangible object to treasure and hold.
I know from the losses that I’ve experienced, it’s not only the big moments or the milestone occasions celebrated in coffee table albums that matter. Sometimes it’s just the little things: silly jokes, words of caring or re-assurance, or times when we are just so nakedly honest….those are the moments that can mean so much.
As a mom, an archivist and a woman obsessed with what it is to live a meaningful life, I humbly accept the responsibility of providing some comfort, in the hope that those small, but oh so sweet memories of loved ones can live on for much longer.