Sunday, June 13, 2021

Rainfall in my life

Into each life some rain must fall, as Longfellow put it. This week brought a deluge to my life, and I considered building an ark. Metaphorical arks for those floods in life aren’t necessarily easy to come by, though, but maybe we can nevertheless find ourselves on dry land.

Earlier this month, I stopped getting emails on my private account. At first I didn’t think much about it—email traffic ebbs and flows, after all, and it coincided with the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend. A few days later, it became clear something was wrong.

I thought that there must be a problem with the email service provider, so I logged into the account. I eventually found a link to check the DNS, the service that translates a website domain into the numeric Internet address that computers can access. It found there were errors.

I next logged into Nigel’s account with the company he bought the domain from, and I had a terrible time navigating the site, but eventually saw the domain wasn’t listed in his account. I checked his past orders and found the invoice from when he renewed the domain for five years. That five years was up on June 2.

This points to the part of this story that maybe could be considered my fault.

A month or so after Nigel died, I did something that broke my email. As I worked to fix it (and I did), I checked his domain account at the time and saw that same receipt. I don’t know whether it was “widow brain” (it probably was) or something else, but at the time I saw it as dated “2019”, when it really said “2016”. So, the domain expired in 2021, not the 2024 I thought it was. I should have been more observant.

The domain service provider also should’ve sent out a reminder email before it expired. But I’ve been monitoring Nigel’s email account since he died in case there was anything important, and there was never any warning email from the domain provider. I even logged into Nigel’s account online to double check they hadn’t sent a reminder at the very last minute. They hadn’t. The domain company absolutely should have sent a warning email (like the company I use for most of my domains does).

Finally, Nigel himself bears some perfectly human responsibility: He didn’t have the domain registration set to automatically renew so he wouldn’t have to remember (I have auto-renew on all mine for that very reason). Sure, in hindsight it’s obvious he should’ve done that, but when he last renewed it, he had no reason to think he’d be dead three years later. Besides, the payment method he’d probably have used was cancelled after he died, so it wouldn’t have worked, anyway.

Add it all up, and there were several missed opportunities, many of which were unavoidable, but only one—lack of preemptive support from the domain company—makes me grumpy. But how can I be angry at anyone when it was mostly a perfect storm in which everything went wrong? Besides, their customer support people did spend an hour and a half on the phone with me trying to help—it was just too late for them to do anything (it’s now in the hands if the domain registrar—yet another company involved in this, and one we had no direct connection to).

I was upset about all this because Nigel got the domain in the first place so we wouldn’t have to keep changing everything using an email address every time we changed Internet Service Providers, something we did several times over the years. Over time, that domain became a kind of metaphor for the family Nigel and I had, so losing it feels a bit like losing our family yet again.

All hope is not completely lost. Some IT professionals are trying to regain it for me. If they don’t succeed, then the last backup is that I have it on “back order” for when it’s publicly available again—in 90 days. All of that may fail, though, so I’m coming to terms with the fact I may never get it back, and I need to deal with the implications of that.

Yesterday and today I spent many, many hours changing the email address used for my various online accounts one way or another. There were dozens and dozens of them. I think I finally finished—I hope? It was every bit as awful as it was back in 2017 when I went through a similar process, and also not by choice, actually.

This isn’t all bad: Changing my email address in various accounts led me to delete lots of dead sites from my password manager (and to better organise the ones left). It also means an end to the perpetual stream of spam emails—the cockroaches of the Internet—going to Nigel’s email account. I’ve slowly unsubscribed his address from newsletters, stores, etc., and the last few left will pretty much take care of themselves now that his email address doesn’t work.

That’s the best light I can put on all this, I’m afraid. Still, maybe it’s all for the best. Maybe it was time to tidy up the last lingering details. I haven’t done it before now because it, too, feels like losing our family yet again, so slow and steady was a gentler way for me to proceed, and so, the only way I could proceed.

“Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary”. I think I’ve had more than my fair share of such days lately, but I still believe—hope—that “behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”


Roger Owen Green said...

I'm exhausted just reading about it!

Arthur Schenck said...

It was certainly exhausting. But at least it seems to be done.