What I Learned From Losing My Cell Phone


People always say you only learn who your true friends are
when you get cancer, or your husband of two decades leaves you for his
26-year-old secretary, or you run over your own dog.

I know an easier way to get a fix on your posse.  Throw your cell phone out the sunroof as you
drive down the New Jersey Turnpike. Leave it wedged in your seat back on the
Delta Shuttle.  Or, as I did recently, do
something decadent like ride a horse in the woods by yourself – not even with
kids as an excuse — with your cell phone in your back jeans pocket.  

The thing must have bounced out at some
point.  I walked the trail twice (without
the horse) and couldn’t find a trace of my phone amidst the pretty fall leaves
on the ground.

For hours, as the loss sunk in, I experienced waves of dread
and grief.  I couldn’t imagine life
without my contacts. It had taken me over five years to build up hundreds of critical,
often unpublished numbers. 

Reliable babysitters. 
The orthodontist’s private line.  The
reservation number for my favorite sushi spot. Moms who would always pick up my
kids from school when I got stuck somewhere. 
The school nurse.  My best friend
from summer camp who lived in Scotland. 

I was helpless without them.

What happened over the next few days revealed a lot to me
about who I need most in my life. There were many surprises.

Every few hours, I would panic about not being able to reach
XYZ.  I would email or Facebook  her (most of these critical contacts turned
out to share my gender).  Until I had put
her number back into my new phone, I would be wracked with fear:  what if something terrible happened and I
couldn’t reach her IMMEDIATELY? 

Until I lost my phone, I never knew who I really needed

A friend in Chicago – with whom I rarely speak in person,
but who leaves me hilarious rambling voice mail updates about her life as a
working mom with two young kids.   A mom
who I don’t even like all that much who is always, always willing to be there
for any of my three kids, no questions asked.  My college roommate and her husband – both
doctors –  who have often taken my
terrified sick-child calls after midnight. The therapist who talked me through
my first divorce, who famously promised to be there for me for the rest of my
life if I needed her. The one person outside my immediate family whose number I
had memorized and could recite in a coma – a Minneapolis girlfriend who’s been
by my side, virtually at least, for 28 years and three marriages.

Then, weeks later, I realized there were several people who
I adore whose numbers I never missed. 
One of those was my husband.  (JK
on that one.)

Having a wide circle of friends and acquaintances is one
thing.  I’m blessed with that.  And I can throw a mean cocktail party with
most of them in merry attendance.

But the inner circle of dear devoted lifelines: people
without whom I go into a mental tailspin? 
You know, the friends flung far and wide who
wouldn’t bother with the cocktail party, but wouldn’t miss my funeral for

Who are those people for you?  I’m lucky to know exactly who they are now.  And to be able to reach them with a few
keyboard strokes.

Thanks, lost cell phone. 
You taught me well.And now, yes, I have figured out how to back up all my
contacts so I will never, ever go through that again.



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