There are few things harder than losing a parent. Even though it's an inevitable part of life, there's nothing to make that passing easier. Memories may fade, but we never close the hole that our parent's leave when they're gone.
This is a fact of life, and while we don't like to think about it, almost all of us grow up with this knowledge somewhere in the back of our heads. Brad Brown grew up like that.
Brown is an investigative journalist, he's a no-nonsense type of guy who isn't afraid of the gritty details that other's shy away from. As with most reporters he's cynical, the type to doubt his own face when he looks in the mirror.
That's why his friends were so surprised when Brown told them what happened to him. His mother, who recently passed, sent him a message from heaven.
Steve Hartman, a journalist with CBS told the story.
"Brad comes to me with a lot of credibility," he wrote for CBSnews. "Which is the only reason I even heard him out when he called me up with this unbelievable tale."
Brown's story wasn't one of hearing voices, or interpreting clouds either, nothing so abstract as that. He said his mom contacted him in a much more traditional way: on the phone.
Specifically his iPhone.
See the message his mother left on the next page!
Most people believe in an afterlife of some sorts. Even with fewer numbers of people attending church, the last poll of Americans showed that some 80% believe in an afterlife. With so many believers it's almost strange that we don't hear more stories of contact from beyond the grave.
That's another reason Brown's story is so intriguing.
He says his mother, Janet Brown, made contact with him about 3 days after she died. He was making arrangements for her funeral when he hit the mail icon on his iPhone. No matter how many times he tapped, the app didn't open.
That in itself isn't unusual, but what happened after was. The screen lit up with a slightly blurred photo, no matter what he pressed the image stayed.
"It wasn't just a blank screen, like the phone had gone dead," Brown said.
It was hard to see at first, but when Brown recognized the image it chilled him. It was a photo he had taken of his mother.
After a few hours the phone started working again normally, but some emails would display the image again as a background.
Brown took his phone into a shop to be looked at. No one had ever seen anything like it. Some were able to recreate the effect, but no one could say how it started.
One technician even refused to fix the phone.
"I think this is a lovely thing," the clerk reportedly said, according to Brown.
Brown, ever the cynic, sometimes struggles with what has left him scratching his head.
"I think about it - is there a technical explanation? I look at the other side of the ledger of reality - is this a blessing that God is giving to me?"
For now Brown is leaving his phone alone, content with the possibility that his mother dialed him up one last time, in her own way, to say goodbye.