“I have those memories back now,” the grieving daughter said. “It’s just a phone. But then again, it’s not.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 18, 2019. It has since been updated.
We all might have misplaced or lost our belongings at times. But there are certain objects that hold special meaning for us, and when those go missing, it can be heartbreaking. For Erica Bennett from South Caroline, it was her iPhone 6S. While the phone itself was not so special, it was what was the content it held that was close to her heart.
Erica, a physical trainer by profession, was enjoying a day with her family by the Edisto River. While they were rafting, Erica's phone fell into the water, according to People. She explained how her husband had dived in to look for the phone, but he didn't have any luck finding it.
She thought she would never see her phone again. What made it worse was that she may never get to see the last messages that she had received from her late father. He had died at 63 earlier that month after suffering from leukemia. His very last message was "Happy Birthday baby!! Hope you are having a great one!!" according to Metro UK. Although it seems like a rather simple message, kids grieving for their parents know how precious such messages are. Also, the phone also had photos of moments she would never again have with her dad.
"I was devastated. I was like, ‘That thing’s gone,'" she told People. “That was one of the things that hit me hard [about the phone]," said Erica. "I thought I would never be able to read those words again. All I remember is thinking of all the photos and texts I had just lost in the bottom of that river. Memories I thought I would never get back."
Sad about her deeply personal loss that not many would understand, she bought a new phone and upgraded it before moving on.
But life has its strange ways. Things leave us suddenly, much like how people do. And sometimes, they return at the most unexpected moment. 15 months later, she received a phone call that would change her life. According to Good News Network, popular YouTuber Michael Bennett was on a dive on September 2019, on a mission to find treasure using a metal detector. He goes by the name Nugget Noggin on YouTube and is an explorer and treasure hunter.) It was there when he found an iPhone tucked in a waterproof case at the bottom of the same river.
But considering it had been there for more than a year, it seemed like a far-fetched chance that it would turn back on. “I have found hundreds of phones on my dives, but most of them do not turn on. I figured it would never work,” said the 25-year-old diver. After getting back home and charging the phone though, he was surprised. “Oh! It’s turning on! Unbelievable,” Michael said in his video blog. Since he didn't know the password to the phone, he removed the SIM card and placed it into a different phone. He was thoughtful enough to find her number by retrieving her contacts.
Using this opportunity, Michael decided to call Erica. On September 22, he did make the call to deliver the good news. As she was getting into bed, she got a call from the YouTuber. She recollects the moment vividly and told People, “I thought it was a spam call at first,” she said. “It was unbelievable. I felt like I was getting punk’d.”
The following Sunday, the two made a plan to meet. When Michael finally handed over the phone to Erica, reuniting her with her father's last words, she was overwhelmed. “There were big waves of emotions. I felt really happy and relieved,” said Erica, according to Good News Network.
“It was tough not having the most recent messages because we had talked about doing things because life is short,” she said. “I cried a little. It’s just an awesome story to tell. I was able to see all the photos from that day, along with other photos and messages I had lost because I’m terrible at remembering to back up my phone.”
“It was kind of emotional because the last thing I have from him is saying, ‘Hey I’m playing phone tag with you, so I just figured I just text you, how are you feeling?’ And I think he had called me after that. I’m pretty sure it was Father’s Day,” Erica Bennett was quoted by WDAM 7, according to News 18.
Though the phone's screen is dimmer and the battery runs out faster, the phone managed to survive the waterbed and retain what mattered the most. “I have those memories back now,” she said. “It’s just a phone. But then again, it’s not.”
Watch the full video here: