Harris Wittels, a comedian and co-executive producer of NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, died Feb. 19 at the age of 30. But his name still pops up on Aziz Ansari’s phone and social media accounts, the Master of None creator and star wrote in a piece about Wittels’ digital footprint for the New York Times.
“It hurts, because for a second, I forget what has happened, and then this electronic ghost forces me to remember all over again,” Ansari wrote. “What do you do? Are you supposed to delete the friend from your phone? It feels mean. The person just died, now I have to ‘delete’ him?”
Ansari later says he’s “glad to have all those emails and messages” he can go back to despite the shock that accompanies revisiting them. “This preserved record of our mundane, day-to-day, digital interactions helps remind me what it was like to have him in my life and what a sweet and hilarious man he was,” Ansari wrote.
Wittels was also known for his appearances on podcasts like Comedy Bang! Bang! and You Made It Weird, which Ansari says he’s found himself returning to in the months since Wittels died. That journey led him to find a bit where Wittels pretends to call from heaven:
Hey, it’s Harris callin’ from heaven. Ahh, it’s pretty great up here. Ahh, it’s beautiful for starters. Hitler’s up here, however, for the vegetarianism thing, so callin’ [expletive] on that. But other than that it’s pretty great. It is very cloudy. You sit on them so that’s cool. Oops gotta’ go, ice cream buffet!
“If there is a heaven,” Ansari wrote. “I hope it’s like this.”