I have been running out of storage space on my iPhone this year. This has been enormously frustrating. I will want to take a picture and not be able to do so because there is no available space on my phone. I’ve deleted photos and videos to free up storage, but it hasn’t made a marked difference.

Now that I have a new puppy, I need to be able take photos! I recently tackled this storage issue in earnest. I began creating some photo album books online and deleting the photos from my phone. I deleted an entire year’s worth of photos. I deleted videos too. I deleted countless strings of text messages. I would check my phone’s storage summary after all of the deletions.

Still. No. Space.

I read articles online about this problem. I tried a soft reset of my phone. No change.

I decided to get more aggressive and wipe everything off of my phone and reload it. This was a scary thing to do, but everything miraculously came back. (Thank you, iCloud.) But my problem remained: no available storage.

I’ve told my friends about the problem. They’ve asked me when I’m eligible for a new phone. I actually know exactly when: January 2, 2018.

New Year’s Eve at the Hospital

I know this date because I lost my phone this past New Year’s Eve. My mom was fighting cancer and we were at the hospital. She was having fluid drained off of her lungs. She was not doing well, but we hoped that this procedure would make her breathing easier.

A patient remains awake when fluid is drained from around the lungs. I thought that sounded horrible, but my mom was taking it in stride. As we sat in her hospital room, the nurse asked her countless questions and entered the results in the computer. She asked us if we had heard the results of the latest scan. Yes, I said. We had learned that she had fluid on her lungs that needed to be drained. The nurse was quiet.

My mom and I chatted. I participated in a conference call while standing outside of her room. The doctor and my mom visited about his middle school son and whether he would be allowed to play football due to the risk of head injuries. The nurse talked about how she had worked at the U of MN for decades.

While we were waiting for the procedure, my cell phone rang. It was the oncologist’s nurse. We talked about medications and the upcoming procedure. The nurse asked me if we had been told about the results of the most recent scan. I said that we had learned about the lung fluid. She said that there was more information that we needed to know. As she began to tell me the news, the nurse started crying. On the most recent scan, there was evidence that the cancer had spread to my mom’s brain. They wanted to schedule a brain MRI for later that day to learn more about the tumor.

My mom was 3 feet away from me. She was in a calm and pleasant mood awaiting her procedure. I couldn’t let her know anything was wrong. I said something non-descript like, “Thank you for the information. I will talk to you later.” I hung up and tried to act normal. I told my mom I needed to go to the restroom down the hall. Once there, I called the nurse back and got more information. She told me that the prognosis was poor. I called my husband and cried a bit. Then I got it together and headed back to my mom.

The procedure went well. My mom tried to eat a graham cracker afterwards, her first food of the day. I told the nurse that eating an entire cracker was an accomplishment these days. My mom agreed. The nurse looked at me with saucer eyes.

New Year’s Eve MRI

Late that afternoon, I pushed my mom in a wheelchair through the maze of underground hallways to the MRI place. By this time, I had told her why they needed to take the MRI. She was surprised and she wasn’t. The cancer had started in her sinuses, near her brain. We knew that it spreading to her brain was a significant risk.

I sat in the waiting room while she had her MRI. When she was finally done, they wheeled her out. MRIs are loud and exhausting. My mom was crumpled up in a wheelchair. I hastily grabbed my things and we made our way to the parking ramp.

The Minnesota cold outside was sharp like a knife. The car had been parked outside all day was not heating up. My mom was agonizingly cold. I took off my winter coat and covered her up with it. Compared to her, I wasn’t cold at all.

We drove home 70 miles through the dark of New Year’s Eve. I told her that down the road, I’d miss these trips. She said that she had never felt physically worse. Neither one of us knew that this would be the last time I would be driving her from Minneapolis to her home.

No Cell Phone

Once I got to her house, I realized I didn’t have my cell phone. I searched my purse, by bag and the car. No phone. I must have left it somewhere at the hospital. Good grief. However, there are worse things than losing one’s cell phone. Like brain cancer. And given all of the stress I was under, it was lucky that that was all I had lost.

On January 2nd, I went to the rural Minnesota Verizon store to get a new cell phone. I had to wait a long time for help. I didn’t care. I saw frustrated, bundled-up customers with their kids come in for help and leave in a huff. A new employee, a high school boy, helped me. While he assisted me, he looked over at a woman about my age and every 10 minutes or so would say, “I’ll be right with you, Mom.”

I chose the least expensive iPhone. I now know that this was a mistake because of its limited storage. But buying a cell phone always feels like a rip-off. I wanted to be ripped-off as little as possible.

Found Storage Space

A couple of days ago, I finally figured out how to free up storage on my phone. I learned that the photos that have been deleted from a phone stay on the phone in a “recently deleted” folder for another 30 days. I found those photos and deleted them. Miraculously, half of my phone’s meager storage became available. Just like that. Now I can take photos of puppy Holmes, listen to my podcasts, and update my software. It’s luxurious to have a phone with available storage space.

I’ve never lost a cell phone before. I’ve never lost a mom either. One is avoidable; the other isn’t. I know more about the totality of life these days, but I wish I didn’t. Life used to be better.

Some people tell me they can’t imagine not having their mom around. I’m trying to imagine what it might be like too, but I can’t figure it out yet. Eventually, I will.