It was a letter written the previous day by someone in despair. Here is what it read: .
Dear Bill (Not His Real Name),
This letter will never get to
you, and that’s good of you . All the
shit you put me through
has changed me in ways
that I should not have
been changed. But Changes
happen because thats life.
I’m not a bitter person,
but this letter is because
I m throwing this in the
ocean because I’m
letting go, because I
can’t keep harboring
all these thoughts, memories,
and emotions because
I am drowning. I cant
keep my head above water
because of you and you
wont leave me along.
Even when you’re not
bugging me in person,
your memory does.
So this is where I
have to let go. Let go.
Let go. Goodbye,
Katie (Not Her Real Name)
I have changed the names to protect the privacy of the two young people. I have reproduced it here exactly as it was printed on a piece of torn notebook paper. This message, thrown by someone who was in the depths of a great despair. moved me greatly. It is clear that she is in a difficult, if not toxic, relationship. My hope for her is that she will move on, leave that relationship behind and find her own destiny on her own terms. I pray that she will find the courage to keep her resolve -- to really "let go". I thought about what kind of person she must be... what might have led up to this moment. I put my thoughts in to the following poem (which is totally my imaginative vision of the circumstances that might have led to the "message in a bottle".
The Girl Who Wrote the Message in the Bottle
“I am drowning. I can’t keep my head above water…”
Message in a Bud Light with Lime Bottle
A young woman walks solemnly to the end of the pier
on 37th Street, just at sunset.
Incongruously, she’s wearing sandals and a hooded jacket.
It is cold and her hood flares in the wind.
She doesn’t seem to care.
“Come with us”, her friends had implored.
“It is time to forget him…to let go and have some fun.
A weekend in Galveston is just what you need.
There are always more ‘fish in the sea’.”
So, she had packed her swimsuit and her big canvas bag,
and her clunky sandals with the wedges,
and thrown in a Jane Austin novel,
although she knew she would never read it.
She had sat in the backseat the whole two hour drive.
Just so she wouldn’t have to talk much.
Especially not about him.
Earlier that evening, she had sat at the pool bar with her friends.
They had had mojitos and talked about jumping in the hot tub.
They had giggled and talked about the latest Hollywood stars,
and tried to pull her into the conversation.
But she couldn’t stop thinking about him.
She ordered a Bud Light With Lime and pulled the fake rattan bar stool closer to the bar
so she could pretend she was watching the TVs,
only her friends knew she wasn’t watching because the only things on the screen
were random interviews with athletes in sports she had never even heard of.
Now and then, she checked her cellphone, frowned and erased messages,
or she opened up her journal thinking she might try to write something,
then closed it again.
After awhile, her friends wanted to go downtown to a club they’d heard of,
The Square Rigger, somewhere on Post Office Street.
She didn’t want to go,, she had said. She had to think.
“She wants to be alone” said the tall, lanky friend with the blond hair
as they waited for the Yellow Cab. “Maybe she’s just not ready”.
She stared into the golden beer, like a mythic Celtic queen, looking into a well.
As she watched, the bubbles danced in the glow of the bars’ neon signs,
backlit by the colors and the flash of the TV screens.
It seemed that every raw and terrible and beautiful memory came back to her:
The softness of the first days when he had taken her dancing and bought her a white rose
the way they seemed to grow together over sushi and fish tacos downed by Dos Equis;
the way he had cradled her in a nest of pillows in his king sized bed;
Then how all the conflicts had begun; a jealous comment; a criticism about her clothes;
or about how she tossed a salad, or her taste in movies;
the argument about how he never liked cats and how she should get rid of that cat
and get a dog because he liked dogs better.
The bubbles of her beer rose erratically to the top of the clear bottle,
then burst, exploding into the air until there was no trace of them.
She wished she knew how to shatter all those wrenching memories.
She loved him, had loved him, through every tearing, bleeding fight.
It seemed like the more she loved him, the more cruel he became.
Her clothes weren’t right. She was too fat. She didn’t cook the pot roast like his mother’s.
She couldn’t dance, anyway. And she didn’t need to say what she thought about things
because no one wanted to hear what she had to say, anyway.
She was just wasting his time.
After the broken dishes, after the smashed the mahogany table he had thrown it at her,
she had left him.
She had packed up the clothes she had carefully picked out, her most expensive shoes
and her worn out flats, and her favorite statement necklaces and her journal
and her cat named Sydney, and she had piled it all into her old Honda Civic
and escaped to her friends’ one-bedroom apartment.
And then, he had started calling.
She had erased the calls before she listened to them, but she had to see the texts,
even though she tried not to – all his pleas for her to come back, that he would be different this time.
She knew she couldn’t go back, but she wasn’t sure she could go forward, either,
not with this tearing pain ripping into her heart with every memory.
She downed the Bud Light with Lime and watched the colored lights flickering inside the empty bottle.
She tried to breathe without feeling the jagged ache she felt every minute she was awake.
Suddenly, she ripped out a page from her journal and began to write.
She wrote her own plea for exorcism, a piece of pure emotion to wrench the ache
right out of her body.
“Dear Bill (Not His Real Name)
This letter will never get to you, and, that’s good. All the shit
you put me through has changed me in ways
that I shouldn’t have been changed….”
She sighed as she finished the letter.
“Let go. Let go. “ she comforted herself as she rolled it up tight and
pushed it down into the Bud Light With Lime bottle.
She looked at it for a long time -- nestled in the bottom,
just starting to get wet from the last drops of beer.
She pushed the cap back on with her fingers – hard –
until the indentations almost cut her thumb.
“I know you will never read this.. but …”
She paid her tab and crossed the street to the 37th Street Pier.
Her sandals clomped on the cement blocks.
She walked steadily without hesitation, like a soldier resigned to his duty.
She stood at the very end, under a full moon, with the lights flashing from the ferris wheel
making random kaleidoscope designs in her eyes as if to hypnotise her
as she watched the water and pondered her fate.
She could hear the waves slapping against the pier,
the wind roaring against her ears,
the sounds of other waves moving toward the shore.
She peered down, down at the absolute blackness below her,
the surf undulating with the sparkle of foam just visible for a second, then gone,
swept under the continuous movement of the sea.
From the bar, the bartender watched her raise her arm and swing.
The colors of the ferris wheel flashed on the Bud Light With Lime bottle as she threw it.
“Let go. Let go.”
The bartender watched as she turned back toward the bar,
a silhouette against the moonlight on the water,
the wind lifting her hair into a halo.
Here is a picture of the pier that morning, just as the sun was rising over the ocean and the seagulls were waking up. I hope that "Katie" returns someday when she has moved past this heart break and on to her new lilfe.