It’s been nearly two months, and I still keep his phone charged. I check it each morning. We didn’t share the same thumbprint, but I knew his password, as he did mine. It was like that between us. We shared almost everything.
I know taking his phone off the account would save me money, but somehow it doesn’t feel right quite yet — to disconnect him. It feels too much like disconnecting with him, and I’ll never be ready for that.
We always used to share a charging cord. Still do. I charge at night and then plug him in during the day.
Early this morning, sleep was elusive, as it often is right now. I went downstairs to check his phone and decided to bring it upstairs with me. I haven’t been able to peruse his phone, other than to check news notifications. So far, it’s felt too raw. Too painful.
RELATED: Slices of Life: I'm not strong
But something about this morning was different; I clicked on the photos icon, and I scrolled through.
The last photo he took was of a piece of pumpkin pie that tasted especially good to him when he was in the hospital. It was dated Oct. 4. He passed away Nov. 16.
Ever since he got his first smartphone he’s been the family photographer. He relished in it. Sometimes we giggled at his huge appetite for taking photos, but we went along with his wishes. He was so giddy and innocent and kid-like about it. We sometimes thought it was overboard, but we indulged him.
I’m so glad we did.
As I scrolled through, there were lots of photos of fun family times, at home and at the lake. There were lake views, holiday pics and restaurant photos — you know, the usual.
I knew he loved taking photos of us, and over time I learned to smile patiently whenever we went to a restaurant and he made a big to-do about getting up and taking my picture. In one of my favorites, I’m sitting at a table with a mirrored wall behind me so the photo features not only me, but his mirrored image holding the camera.
Of course he took photos of our granddaughter. In one video, he and I were at the fleet supply store; it must have been in the spring because they had baby chicks and ducks. The video starts out with my face, full frame. He narrates. “Here I am with Grammy at the store and we found some baby chicks.” Then he pans to the metal bins holding the tiny birds. As he videoed, he encouraged our granddaughter to ask her mommy for a pet ducky.
It was all fun, of course. We had a lot of fun. I miss that. I miss that a lot. We were so darn cute together.
As I continued scrolling, there were other memories, moments in time, I didn’t expect to see.
He took photo, after photo, after photo — of me. Many of them were taken without my even knowing.
What I didn’t understand then, but do now, is when I wasn’t paying attention, when I wasn’t smiling or even looking at the camera, he was still capturing moments in time. He was still capturing me.
He took countless pictures of me sitting on the boat, staring at the water. Many don’t include my face, but the back of my head. He captured my profile at sunset. He caught me with my feet up, eyes closed and sunbathing. Whenever he had a moment and thought about his camera and it was just the two of us, he took a photo of me.
From my perspective, this demonstrates an undying, true and beautiful love. He could have taken a photo of the gorgeous sunset, or loons on the lake, but he chose to focus his camera on me, much like he focused his life on me. Now, looking back, this sentiment is even more breathtakingly beautiful than a sunset could ever be.
He loved me even when I wasn’t looking. What more could a girl wish for or want than that?
I miss you, Thom. I treasure the photos you took. Thank you for doing that.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.