This story struck a nerve with me as soon as I read the headline. Faron Butler is suing T-Mobile for deleting voice messages left by his 14-year-old daughter who died of cancer in June. To console his grief in the wake of her death, Butler would listen to messages his daughter left him saying, “Daddy I love you and I miss you,” and he says, “I feel like her voice is gone.”
T-Mobile deleted the messages when Butler signed up for a free trial of T-Mobile voice-to-text service, but the company failed to tell Butler that his currently saved messages would be deleted. He’s now “pressing ahead with legal action in order to force T-Mobile to somehow retrieve his daughter’s voice,” CNET reports.
Butler’s attorney, Chris Crew, believes that the data can be retrieved, but that T-Mobile is afraid to restore the messages to Butler’s account because that precedent will open a flood gate of similar requests, thus costing the company money. “What I think is really going on is that they don’t want to tell people they can recover lost data, because then everyone will want their deleted items retrieved,” Crew says.
T-Mobile is also my cell phone carrier, and they’ve deleted messages I had saved without informing me that would happen, as well. However, none so precious as the sound of a deceased child’s voice. Despite my ability to sympathize with Butler’s anger at his cell phone carrier, that’s not what got me about this story. Instead, I thought about my sister, who has several messages from our dad saved on her answering machine. I know if they ever got accidentally deleted – and I’m sure they will one day, because these are the mini-tragedies of life – she would be devastated.
I’ve dealt with more loss in half a life span than many people will in an entire lifetime, and I’ve learned that while we try to hold onto things like voice messages and video, sweaters and eyeglasses (just me?), eventually all things fade away but memory. I remember when my mom first cleaned the garage maybe a year or two after my dad died, it felt strange to get rid of his stuff. But slowly, over time, we learn to let go of worldly things and to see the people around us, after they pass away, through the marks they’ve left on our hearts.