One of my many paternal aunts, who lived in Montréal, Canada, died in early April. I wasn't extremely close to her but she would call to check in with me and send me birthday cards. I'd also see her in New York during the holidays at family gatherings.
She was one of my aunts who suffered from schizophrenia/paranoia but improved with medication.
I always felt a little weird calling her because I never knew what to say. I didn't know much about her other than the fact that she traveled a lot. Her speech and her English were tough to understand at times but she had remarkably improved both over the years.
A few minutes ago, I was cleaning out one of my document bins and came across a list of questions I wrote down to ask her so I could steer conversation next time I talked to her. Her phone number was prominently scrawled at the bottom.
So I dialed it. The phone rang and rang and rang. Hope fluttered in my heart, waiting to hear her voice, mixed with anticipation that someone totally different would answer it.
An automated operator broke in to tell me in French that the number was disconnected and out of service. If I needed assistance, press "0" for help.
I hung up. She really is gone.