I was inwardly taken aback for a moment. Still, being professional, I asked him if he had already searched the HD and take off what he wanted. He told me no and that he and his wife did not wish for me to examine the hard drive nor save any data. I was to destroy all data and reformat the drive. He was in tears at this moment and I agreed to his wishes. At that point, he left the room as he could not be there as I took care of this remaining issue.
As I set my things up to take care of this, it dawned on me there were no pictures of this "lost" child in the room. There seemed to be no mementos, no memories besides the fluffy white dog sleeping on the arm of the couch. I started to feel a little bad myself.
I was not able to take care of the issue in the traditional manner as that there was a bit of hardware failure going on so I removed the HD and jacked it into another system so that I could format it that way. As I did this, I couldn't help but to bring up all of the last files and emails of this dead woman. I knew they had remained unread and untouched for these past 4 years. I saw all the documents and part of me wondered, "Perhaps I should somehow keep these... maybe he will change his mind. What if she didn't kill herself, what if it was foul play and the clues are here?"
Then I looked around the room again and saw the absence of her life in that room. She had committed suicide. Perhaps she wanted attention. Perhaps she wanted to be forgotten. I didn't know as I wasn't a part of that chapter of that family's life. I looked again at the hard dive and all the documents and emails and heard in my mind:
And I admit to getting tears in my eyes at that point myself. Here were the last vestiges of someone's life. The last little bits of unknown facts, figures, and messages. Here were her last secrets or not, left on a four year old hard drive - untouched, unexplored.
And for a moment, once again I was tempted to try to transfer the data but I didn't have my own laptop with me. I almost felt as though I was destroying something important and should do something to carry on at least this digital legacy of someone's life. But then again, stronger now: