Our coffee shop lends itself to deeply, personal conversations. Over a cortado, a close friend told me about losing his mother with whom he was extremely close. Having lost my mother to cancer in 2007, I shared my experience. "You will feel like crap for a long time. And when you're having a normal-ish day, something innocuous will trigger an avalanche of feelings. The trigger might be a sound, a smell, a sight or a taste. When it happens to me, I just acknowledge how I feel, reflect on the moment and move forward."
After ten years, I often think about calling my mother, usually from the car on the way home after a long day. In my mind, I have nothing very important to share with her, just a quick check-in to share the mundane details of our day. For all of history, people have wanted to reach across the boundary between life and death.
In January of this year, CityLab shared a story, written by Jessica Leigh Hester, about Japan five years after the tsunami. The story reports on a "wind phone" that sits in a garden in the Japanese town of Otsuchi. Of the 16,000 residents of Otsuchi, ten percent lost their lives in the disaster. Check out the full story at: Citylab Otsuchi Wind Phone
The "wind phone" preceded the disaster by a year, Itaru Sasaki had put the phone in his garden to deal with the death of his cousin. As he told Japanese TV channel NHK Sendai, "Because my thoughts couldn't be relayed over a regular phone line, I wanted them to be carried on the wind." Now other mourners use the phone booth to whisper to those they have lost.
I haven't the space in the coffee shop to install a phone booth. I dare say that if I did, someone would claim it as an office. But I have room for an old fashion rotary phone to sit on the counter by the espresso machine. I am not sure it will have the same visceral impact of the Otsuchi phone booth nestled in a garden overlooking the ocean, but if it offers anyone succor, please stop in, put the receiver to your ear and whisper.