When prolific texter, Lesley Emerson, died of bowel cancer at age 59 in July 2011, her family buried her with her favorite possessions. Among these items was her cell phone, something she had always had with her during her life.
The family loved that they were only a text message away from this beloved woman, and decided to commemorate this by leaving the phone with the woman and contacting their phone provider, O2, about taking the number out of service. O2 assured them that no one would ever use Lesley’s number again, and the family used texting her to help them through their grief.
Three years after Lesley passed away, her granddaughter, Sheri, received a response to some text messages she’d sent her grandmother. They said: “I’m watching over you, you’ll get through this, you’ll be all right,” and “I’m watching over you and it’s all going to get better. Just push through.”
The 22 year old demanded to know who was sending the messages, and received an apology from a man who had been given the number a few weeks earlier by provider Giffgaff. He said he’d received texts from unknown numbers and thought it was jokes from his friends. In good humor, he’d replied, never knowing the distress he was causing the family.
O2 is now trying to get the number back from Giffgaff after failing to inform the family that the number, once disconnected, would return to the number pool.