Some years ago I lost possessions in a house burglary. The thieves stole the usual things – TV, hi-fi – but the item that bothered me the most was my jewellery box. Not that I had anything valuable in there (in an ironic twist, my most valuable pieces of jewellery were two rings that I’d left on the sink in the bathroom through which the bastards entered and they missed them) but there were things that had other value – the tiny silver crucifix that was a christening gift from my godmother, and the monetary-valueless necklace that was my grandparents’ last gift to me before my grandfather died. I was devastated, literally losing the will to stand when I realised what had gone, leaning against the wall and sliding down it. It took me years to get over, any return home after time away (it happened whilst I was on holiday) accompanied by a cold hand gripping my insides until I knew the house was untouched.
The hand returned yesterday, a phone call from my husband telling me that our computer, which had died a few days earlier, was unfixable. It tightened when we realised that the last viable back up of our data is three months’ old. It was a traumatic few hours until a suitable time for wine.
The thing died last week as the news on TV reported the Beirut blast and it’s hard to mourn a piece of plastic and a few thousand words when humans elsewhere are faced with so much more. Still I do mourn those words. Many of them would probably not have been seen by eyes other than mine, although there were a couple of blog posts that I had written but not yet published, along with some photos I had transferred from my phone to accompany them. I curse my good housekeeping that means I delete the copies on my phone once they are on the computer, and that now means they are gone completely.
Also gone is any update I made to any spreadsheet, database or document within the last three months, which doesn’t lead to the hand grabbing me as much as a sense of dread sweeping over me at the time and effort it will take to find what is missing and re-create them. Thankfully, it seems as though all last year’s tax files haven’t been lost. We have, though, seen the last of a few thousand dollars we will have to spend on a new computer, less than two years after the few thousand spent on the dead one. We aren’t poor but it’s a frustrating way to lose money (as if there was a way that wouldn’t be).
Less than twenty-four hours after Neil’s call I have found perspective. I’m annoyed as hell that it leaves me with a lot of work to do; I still feel a leap of my heartbeat when I think of the words I have lost, a sense of panic that I won’t be able to find them again, a feeling that I want to curl up and pretend it hasn’t happened. I’m particularly annoyed about the blog posts (one was the best I’d ever written – you’ll have to take my word for it) and that, even if I re-write them, the photos I wanted to accompany them are gone. In truth, I can’t yet face even thinking about looking for those lost words. I may have found perspective but, like somewhere deep inside me I still mourn the loss of my valueless but priceless childhood treasures, when I think of those missing words, I feel the tears welling.