The death of a loved one comes as a disquieting shadow, often rousing a phantom limb sensation that makes one believe the deceased is somehow still around when they are truly not. Perhaps it is what comes along with the stages of grieving, apart from the denial and the reveries brought about by red-hot memory, to all the unanswerable whys and wherefores over the brevity of life. One learns on one’s own how to cope and temper with the pain that death brings time after time.
When British radio presenter James O’Brien’s father passed away five years ago, perhaps he didn’t expect his young daughter would retain vivid memories of her grandfather. She was really young when he died, after all.
O’Brien, however, posted a picture on Twitter last Feb. 17 of his daughter seemingly trying to converse with her grandfather through text. O’Brien shared that his youngest has had his phone now for a few years, which she usually uses to play games with.
“My youngest has had my old phone for a couple of years. Just for games, which I download for her before disconnecting the internet,” wrote O’Brien. “Still has my old contacts though [and] it turns out she’s been messaging my dad, who died 5 years ago. I may have something in my eye.”
“I love you grandad have a great time in heaven I hope you meet Jesus and I hope you had an amazing life I absolutely love you and my life could not of been this amazing without you,” one of the texts of his daughter read.
Another said, “I’m nearly 10 and Elizabeth is 12! She loved your present by the way your present was your love.”
It was a moving thing to see such empathy and perception from a 10-year-old, that netizens couldn’t help but be touched by O’Brien’s daughter. As more and more people reacted to the tweet, some were prompted to share their own stories of coping with the loss of their loved ones.
“I’m sure that wherever he is, he is seeing those messages and having a big beaming smile,” wrote one Thomas Evans (@ThomasEvansGB). “Sometimes when life is getting me down, I have a little talk with my grandmother who died 17 years ago. I don’t know if she is there or can hear me. But it cannot hurt to hope so.”
Others reached out to O’Brien, telling him that they, too, have done the same thing after losing a parent and a sibling. “Just lost my Mum,” shared Helen Ayres (@Raphaelite_Girl). “For several days I’ve wanted to text her, telling her things. Your girl is adorable.”
Meanwhile, another parent Rachel McCoubrie (@McCoubrieRachel) shared that her four-year-old child did something similar after her father died.
“That’s so lovely. About two weeks after my Dad died, my four [year] old picked up our phone and had a hushed pretend conversation, then put the phone down and announced, ‘That was Grandad. He isn’t very happy in heaven and he wants to come back!'”
Perhaps children possess something adults do not, a sixth sense that instantly recognizes what is usually missed, perhaps only reserved in the wisdom of the child. To stare in the face of death and see not what is gone, but what remains: memory and hope. JB