“Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”
I caught the following story on a newsfeed Saturday afternoon.
It was a rainy afternoon and I was bouncing between watching college football games and
peeking in on the day’s news.
The following story is one of those types of stories that catches you from out of the blue
and in turn, leaves you speechless.
I tried to tell my husband about the story but the words wouldn’t come.
Finally, I sputtered that there was a story he’d need to read but that I was
unable to read it out to him nor could I even recap it as it was just “that” kind of story…
because the lump would not leave my throat and the tears were becoming heavy.
Maybe I had the reaction I did because I understood this story.
I understood it on a level that goes beyond simply reading the tale of another.
I knew, as I know, that this is due to my own experiences.
How many of us who have ever lost a loved one yet still had a recording of their voice
lingering on our answering machine or phone’s voice mail?
How many texts or letters do we continue to cling to…reading their words,
reliving conversations, tracing the letters of their individual personal script?
And how many of us have taken painstaking steps to ensure that those recordings
or writings reside in our lives forever…never wanting to lose the sound of the voice
or the written words of the one we have loved and lost….
because if we dare lose that recording or those words, we lose that person all
over again…as the sound of their voice or their written words and
their personal cadence slips aways forever from memory.
I know that when my sister-n-law’s phone fell off their boat this past summer, late one
afternoon when they were at the lake, she was frantic and beside herself with panic.
Her late daughter’s final voice mails were on that phone.
The laughter, the “I love yous”—that surreal sense that she wasn’t truly gone
from her life was dependant upon that phone.
She called us from her husband’s phone frantic to know if we knew how or if she could ever
retrieve those voicemails on a new phone.
I was almost 26 when my mom died.
I mourned and grieved albeit very stoically on the outside…yet on the inside
I was a wreck.
I grew angry, as I still can find myself doing after all these many years later,
angry that she is not here…not here to listen, to help, to offer me her advice,
She missed the birth of her only grandchild.
She missed his growing.
She missed so much, as I missed her so much…
So the story about a 23-year-old Arkansas gal who would text her dad’s cell phone every
day after his death, just to text him her thoughts…
talking and texting into a phone with no voice or words responding back…
but a continued effort of reaching out to his phone,
as she desperately needed to connect to her dad…well, her story left me speechless.
She still yearned for her dad… his wisdom, his strength, his presence in her life.
I could understand that yearning.
She would text and share her ups and downs.
The milestones he was missing…
Little did she know that there was someone listening and reading on the other end of that phone.
For four years he read yet never responded with a word.
He let her just talk or write about her world without her dad.
This went on for four years.
And the twist to all of this turns out that the person on the other end of the phone
was a father who had lost his own daughter.
And so now here was a daughter reaching out to her dad…
and here was a dad who had lost his daughter…
who knew that one phone number was now another’s number.
A number of one grieving reaching out unknowingly to another who was grieving.
Below is a portion of the story along with a link to the full story at the bottom.
I text my dad every day to let him know how my day goes,
for the past Four years! Today was my sign that everything is okay and
I can let him rest!
A 23-year-old woman in Arkansas lost her father four years ago,
but she continued to text his phone every day to update him about his life.
She never got a response from the number, until this week.
Like she did every day, Chastity Patterson, of Newport, texted her father’s number on Thursday,
the night before the fourth anniversary of his death.
“Hey Dad it’s ME,” she said. “Tomorrow is going to be a tough day again!”
In her texts, Patterson recapped all of the highs and lows she had gone through over
the past four years without her father by her side.
She talked about how she beat cancer and has been taking better care of herself
like she promised her father she would.
She talked about how she finished college and graduated with honors and how she’d fallen
in love and had her heart broken,
“(you would have killed him),” she told her father.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me the most,
but one day we will [sic] our chance to watch that game!”
she wrote in her latest text.
This week, Patterson received a response from a man who had been receiving her
daily messages these past four years.
“My name is Brad and I lost my daughter in a car wreck August 2014 and your messages
have kept me alive,” the response read.
“When you text me, I know it’s a message from God.”
“I have listened to you for years and I have watched you grow more than anyone,”
“I have wanted to text you back for years, but I didn’t want to break your heart.”
He said he wished his daughter would have become the woman Patterson is.
“I’m sorry you have to go through this but if it makes it any better,
I am very proud of you!
P.S. I think your father would be happy to know you bought another dog instead of having children.”
Patterson posted the exchange to Facebook.
“Today was my sign that everything is okay and I can let him rest!”
It has since gone viral.
In a later post, Patterson revealed that the loved one she’d lost,
Jason Ligons, was not her biological father, but she called him dad.
“Jason was not my ‘biological’ father, but blood could not make him any closer!”
“He never missed a school dance, prom, my games and YES he would give me long talks
about my mouth and attitude.
I had to introduce my boyfriends to him (If I was allowed to date)
and he would act like a normal dad and give us the long talk,” Patterson said.
“I shared my messages for my friends and family to see that there is a God
and it might take 4 years, but he shows up right on time!” she added.