Message in a Bottle

Introduction

By DENISE WEIGELE, teacher

About five years ago, my brother Daniel was vacationing on a beach in Montauk, Long Island, NY. Amongst friends of long standing, the washed up bottle arrived and generated much controversy amongst the group; a visible and legible note revealed the sentimental note from a daughter to a father on the outside of a plastic tennis ball container. The container was taped securely and amazingly, still dry within. Visible mementos of childhood and a clear signature stamp revealed the possibility of identity.

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The group was divided and became discursive with each other. What shall we do with it? Some argued it would do no harm to open it. Others felt that opening it would violate the spirit of private memory, and the inferred intent of the daughter- a sense of closure and honor to private memories and the pain of loss.

So discreetly, Daniel moved the bottle aside. And as if lost in the sand, much like it had drifted in the ocean from Eastchester, NY, it took a quiet journey to Edison.

“I thought you could do something with the kids with this,” he said to me. Now the burden was mine, and I floundered in indecision for five years. It was easy to forget about it at times, but it was really the nagging memory of my own conscience and memories of my own father.

When personal life becomes a teaching tool, you can reach more students. Decisions like these are personal and I believe, accountable. So I packed the daughter’s message and heart into my book-bag, and brought it to my Creative Writing class where we made something meaningful and memorable.

Their poems reveal the physical contents, the contagious sentiment, and the respect. All of this is a memory worth sharing and marking in a garden of quiet and beauty in the courtyard of J.P. Stevens; it nurtures my heart and my own memories.

The next time sand is between my toes, I plan to toss my own message into the ocean of possibilities.

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