Monday, April 16, 2012

If I never hear your voice again

Frank Warren runs a site called which is an online community for displaying and discussing secrets people send to him. Warren was recently featured on a TED Talk entitled "Half a Million Secrets."

I don't think I'd ever heard of PostSecret before, or if I did, I didn't pay much attention to it. But watching Warren's TED Talk was very powerful. The last post card he shares is one in which someone wrote:
When people I love leave voicemails in my phone I always save them in case they die tomorrow and I have no other way of hearing their voice ever again
This brought back a memory of mine from many years ago. It's faded, but still intact (arguably so).

When we learned to read, my brothers and I often read - among other books - Frog and Toad. I remember how hard it was to struggle through each word when Mom and Dad could do it so fluidly and with such ease. I don't know if that made me want to work harder so I could get there or if it made me more frustrated that I wasn't there already.

Some time not long after Matt died, we (or I?) found a cassette tape on which he had recorded himself reading Frog and Toad aloud. My memory tells me that I sat there listening quietly in awe of this little piece of plastic and roll of magnetic tape. It had only been - what, maybe a few months or a year? - since Matt died, and that I could hear his voice again was indescribable even though it was the awkward word-by-word reading and occasional sounding-out of syllables in a children's book.

Memories are a funny thing. As Radioab discussed, every time you revive a memory, your brain writes it back, quite possibly altering it in some way. Details aren't stored exactly; the major points are saved, and when you retrieve it, your brain re-interprets, re-fabricates the details. This memory of hearing Matt's voice again is almost certainly not very accurate.

Besides, I don't remember his voice. I just remember that I heard it.


  1. Do you still have the recording? I always keep at least one voicemail per loved one just in case too.

  2. No, I don't have it anymore. I'm not sure if it's sitting around somewhere at my parents' place or if it got lost, never to be found again. I'm willing to bet that if my parents knew where it was, they'd have converted it to a digital format and would know exactly where it was.