Ruth Murray is a 36-year-old woman from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had a brother Mike, who she loved very much. The two were close, but Mike had a problem. He was struggling with addiction for over 12 years. He had tried to get clean a few times, but each time, he would relapse. He had been clean for three months, and he and Ruth were spending a lot of time together. Sadly, he relapsed again, but this time he wouldn’t have a chance to try to stay clean because he died of a heroin overdose. He was 37-years-old when he passed away. Ruth was devastated.
Can’t Let Go
Ruth realized early on that it wouldn’t be easy to let her brother go. Like most people who have lost a loved one, Ruth visited her brother’s grave regularly to talk to him. She created a memorial page on Facebook for her brother, and she texted him every day, even though he was gone. According to Andrea Warnick, a Toronto-based psychotherapist, these things are normal. She ways that there is a profound human need to stay connected to the dead. For Ruth, texting Mike’s number made her feel better. She was texting her brother every day when he was alive, and texting him after his death just felt normal. She never thought about what would happen when his number was assigned to someone else.
Brothaboo and Sisterboo
Ruth and Mike had a powerful bond. She would call him Brothaboo, and he called her Sisterboo. These were the names that they used for one another in the contact lists on their phones. Ruth says that if she heard a funny joke, she would text it to Mike. If she remembered something funny from their childhood, she would text him. Anytime she wanted to reach out to him when he was alive; she would send him a text. She continued to do this after he died.
How It Started
Ruth says that shortly after her brother died, she had something funny to tell him. She reached for her phone, and then remembered that he was no longer there. She knew he was gone, but she wanted to text him anyway. For the next six months, Ruth sent a text to Mike’s number almost every day. She felt like it was a way that she could still talk to him.
One day in September 2019, Ruth was feeling down. She really wished that Mike was there because he always had a way of making her feel better. She picked up her phone and sent a text to her number that read, “I just miss you so much. God. What the hell.” This message wasn’t out of the ordinary. These were the types of texts that she often sent when she was missing Mike more than usual. It was what happened next that took her completely by surprise.
Ruth sent her text and put her phone down. A few hours later, she heard her text alert, so she went to check her phone. She stood in shock when she saw that she had a text message from “Brothaboo.” She stood there in shock for a few minutes. She knew that Mike was gone, so how was he sending her a text? It took a few minutes before she realized that someone had to have been assigned Mike’s number. She knew that this would eventually happen. It had only been six months since Mike died, and she didn’t think that it would happen quite so quickly.
Overcome With Emotions
When Ruth saw the text notification from her brother, she couldn’t fight back the tears. She had to leave the room to be alone. She felt like she had lost something now that someone else had Mike’s number. She found comfort in sending him text messages, and now that had to stop. She felt as if she was losing her brother all over again. When Ruth read the message, she never expected it to change her life. The message read, “I’m sorry to hear that you’re missing someone, but unfortunately, you have the wrong number.”
The woman who sent the text was Amber Leinweber. She is a 32-year-old woman who lived 400 miles away in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. When she first saw the text, she thought that Ruth was reaching out to someone who had changed their phone number. She received a text back from Ruth. In it, she explained that her brother had passed away in March, and she liked to text his number because it made her feel like he could hear her. Then she wrote, “sorry.” Amber decided to send a text back to the grieving stranger.
The Return Text
Amber returned the text and wrote, “Don’t be sorry! I’m going through a similar thing right now. My cousin, who’s like a sister to me, isn’t doing well and expected to pass any day now so I completely understand. Feel free to text anytime you need to. Sending you much love.” Ruth thanked Ashley for her kindness and offered her condolences for her cousin. She told her that she was dreading the day that her brother’s number would be reassigned. When the two women talked more, they discovered that Ashley had a connection to Mike. It turned out that her brother played online poker with Ruth’s brother. The two women forged a friendship through the text messages.
More People Like Her
When Ruth posted the beginnings of her unlikely friendship with Amber on Reddit, she found out that she wasn’t alone. She received many comments from people who were also texting their loved ones after their deaths. A woman named Jessica Allen told her that when he lost her brother, her family buried him with his phone so they could still text him. Many people told her that they still texted their loved ones after they were gone. For Ruth, it did help. It was 6 months after a woman’s brother passed away, she received a spine-tingling text from his number, she it brought a new friend into her life and a connection to her brother.