A Lifeless Dial Tone

Mary - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 8, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death, family, love
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I believe in never hanging up the phone. Never cutting off communication. Never stopping short of the goodbye.

In life, whenever we become frustrated with someone, we tend to shut them out or cut them off. In other words we “hang up the phone,” and are left listening to the lifeless sound of the dial tone. Although the simplistic action of pressing the “end” button may be viewed as a peccadillo, it is much more. The dial tone reminds us of hopeless connections with others which eventually led to relationships without essential goodbyes. The true irony is that goodbye is viewed as the end, when in fact it is only the beginning. Hanging up the phone—the absence of a goodbye—is the element that kills future communication.

When Maureen was just nine years old, living through her awkward and emotional pre-teen stage, it was humiliating to kiss her mother. However due to her family’s stubborn nature, she neglected this opinion; she kissed her mom before leaving for school each morning. At the time, her mom was suffering from an illness which left a permanent indent in her mattress since she was inclined to it for weeks. Occasionally, the two would instigate arguments with one another, which was not an abnormal relationship between a nine year old and her mother. Despite the condition each morning nevertheless, Maureen always kissed her mother goodbye.

There was only one particular morning that Maureen broke this routine. Not only was she rushing around the house in an attempt to avoid tardiness; but also, recovering from a rocky evening with her mom from the previous night. Subsequently, she did not grant her mother with the expected goodbye kiss. Instead, she blew it off as though she would see her mom immediately following school. Maureen deeply regretted this decision after she received the hapless news that her mother had died that afternoon. No goodbyes were exchanged. Maureen is my mother and it was that particular morning that now haunts her life each day.

If my mother has taught me anything in life, through her past mistakes, she has taught me always to say goodbye. Always end with positive closure, despite the conditions of the relationship at the time. You can never predict the words that you will bypass if you give up on someone without putting forth any effort. The words could have ended up healing the wounds, but unfortunately you discarded the opportunity.

A few months ago, my mom and I were continually bickering over the phone. Out of anger and resentment, I rapidly hung up the phone before saying goodbye. Suddenly, I realized how fortunate I had been to have my mom present throughout my pre-teen years; therefore, I immediately redialed and apologized. I promised my mother that I would never hang up on her again; you never know when your last shot at saying goodbye might be. From this moment on, I decided that I believe in never hanging up the phone. Never cutting off communication. Never stopping short of the goodbye.