It’s just data.

DSC03153-effect“I’m afraid to say, that what we have here is a complete hard drive failure.”

God damn it! If I’m not careful, I am going to go into a “complete emotional failure”. An epic widow melt-down. Breathe. Process this news s l o w l y.

See, on my most wonderful, “joyous” birthday in December, my computer crashed. Died. The IT guys at work couldn’t fix it, so, after much procrastination (obviously, as it’s now February), I took it to a specialist. Which is where I got the diagnosis. He explained that there was still hope for retrieving the data, by sending it to a data recovery service. But it would cost me. How much? I vaguely heard him say, possibly $600, going up to a thousand, as my mind started freaking out.

A thousand dollars? Are you kidding me?! I asked the guy, honestly, why does it cost so much? Because right now I am a little over-sensitive about being taken advantage of. I’m also tired of having to place monetary value on my love. If you’ve ever had to make decisions at a funeral home, you know what I am talking about.

All of my photos. Our photos, of our life, on my computer. FUCK!!!

Breathe. You survived hearing all the other diagnoses, resulting in the final outcome: “complete adrenal failure”. This is not even comparable. Apples and oranges.

The computer guy explained why it’s so costly. They have to go into a special room, devoid of dust and particles, all suited-up. The drive itself consists of several discs that are stacked together…and, one file, parsed into magnetic or digital I’s and O’s might not even exist as a unit, on one side of a disc, it might be in many places, on different sides of different discs. It’s a delicate procedure.

Hot damn. This stuff is completely over my head, and I probably butchered the explanation kindly Mac guy gave me, but I wanted to understand. Just like I wanted to understand what really took place in my husband’s body when he died. Not because I’m morbid. Because I cared. And I carry his story. The story of his death. No one else was there, except me. Who knows how this data is being stored in my being, the delicate, devastating moment.

And my hard drive? It carries the pictures of our story, our life together. An amazing technological time-capsule, but you know what they say…sometimes hard drives just fail. We can’t tell you why. People, too. Our incredible bodies, our mysterious souls. So many medical experts, and they still don’t know why some of us get cancer and some of us don’t.

If, (and it is still an “if”), they can recover the data, what is the price worth paying? I have printed a lot of the photos out. I can probably still access them in my Walgreens photo account, and I have my memories. In fact, there’s a part of me that wants to wipe the slate clean. What I have here, and now, in my heart, in my mind, is all that moves forward with me. The other things, forgotten images, old data? Out of sight, out of mind. I realize that might sound cold-hearted. Of course he will never be forgotten, there are bits of him scattered throughout me, different moments, memories, habits. But the extra trappings, the physical data, the “things” trying to keep me focused on a past that has passed, I want to off-load some of it.

But I’m not sure I can do it. I’m not a machine.

I really hope they can retrieve the “data”, the I’s and O’s of our beautiful and complex intertwined history. The thought of someone handling it with such extreme care, I’m willing to pay for that. It is precious cargo. An endangered species. My heart is pounding at the thought of losing it.

Alas, I’m back in a place where hope is the only stinking choice I’ve got.

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7 thoughts on “It’s just data.

  1. It would be an understatement to call this a bummer.

    My husband’s voicemail messages to me were on my old phone. When I got a new phone, I passed the old phone along to my daughter to use as an ipod. She spilled water on it. In checking to see if it worked, I pulled the cord out of it too soon, and the screen frazzled. I took it to nearby city to the Apple store. He said there’s a remote possibility I could recover the data, but it’s a complicated procedure. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and try, only to have them dashed. So I brought that old phone home and put it in a drawer.

    That was 4 months ago. I don’t know if I’ll go through with the recovery attempt. I’ve been sitting with it, the possibility of losing the recordings of my husband’s (friendly and not unsexy) voice. I carry it in my head. Can that be enough?

    • It’s so tough…I can understand your hesitation, too. My mom lost the voicemail messages from my dad in a phone transfer. She was initially devastated, but she also told me that she took it for what it was, a sign that some things are to remain in the past. I only have a few messages from my husband, from when he was ill, so you can hear the confusion of drugs in his voice. It’s not my favorite memory…but there is something so incredibly unique about someone’s voice. I like knowing I can listen to it, if I really want to.

      • I may settle where your mom is. It seemed like a signal that I need to move on, without that stuff. In fact, it was kind of a decisive moment in my healing.

        That said, I do hope you have some luck in restoring your hard drive!

  2. I am so sorry this happened to you. I had a complete crash and lost all my photos and a couple of book drafts about a year before my husband died, so I have an idea of hard it is to accept this kind of loss. Fast forward a couple of months after my crash and I began to see it as liberating, a chance to start anew. And I did that with few regrets….but I also signed up for the Carbonite service so I never have to worry about crashes again. Well worth the $50 a year for the peace of mind. You can also put out the word with your family and friends that you lost all your photos and ask them if they have any of your husband and you if they’d email you copies.

    • Such good advice. Thank you. I can’t imagine losing book drafts. I have a lot of portfolio work (for graphic design that I do), and this potential loss of data has had me wondering if, indeed, it’s time to move on to something different. A question I have had for a while, but we will see. Baby steps…or should it be called “widow steps”?!
      p.s. Thanks for the other movies you listed, I like many of those as well. My favorite tear-jerker romantic comedy is “Love Actually”, which coincidentally includes a widower (played by Liam Neeson, who, in real life, tragically lost his wife. I read an interview in which he talked about how grief still blind-sides him. It made me feel better to read that grief even slays tough guys).

  3. Actually, I think losing the book drafts turned out to be a good thing in light of the fact that Don died within a year. They were about living with someone with his language disorders—a lot of humor but serious caregiver stuff, too, and if I’d actually managed to get them published or even self-published it would have come to fruition in the early months of widowhood. That would have bee SO stressful then. For everything there is a reason….we just don’t always see the full picture when bad things happen.

  4. Oy. That’s tough. Hard decisions to make and your thoughts – on both sides – are valid. It is so difficult to decide what should be kept and what should not. I struggle with this a lot, as you are. One thing to keep in mind is that your decision on the hard drive doesn’t have to be made RIGHT NOW. It’s the same as if it were a box of printed photos – you can put it away and then decide later what you want to do.

    Regarding the Mac, Rick purchased an external hard drive using a product called Time Machine. About every 2 months I plug the drive into the Mac and activate the Time Machine program; it makes a complete, dated copy on the hard drive. Simple and not expensive. Not that helps the current situation…

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