When we’re children, we do a lot of things to hold onto memories that we hope come back to us. Tying a message to a balloon is one of them, while the most popular is perhaps putting a message in a bottle. Very rarely do these bottles get discovered by people, but that changed recently.
Linda Shouse Humphries and her husband David stumbled upon a peculiar bottle in Sapelo Island, Georgia. The letter inside was dated in 1988, and while the water had erased some of the message, it read that “Hello, my name is Miranda Dawn Moss. I am eight years old. I am in third grade at Foster Park Union S.C.” Moss also asked that whoever found the bottle would write back to her, letting her know that the bottle had been recovered.
Humphries and her husband were doing a beach sweep along with nearly a dozen other people, and said “my husband always goes down to the very end because there tends to be more debris there.” That’s when they found the brittle note and David decided to show it to his wife. “I opened it and started reading and thought ‘Oh, this is cute – this eight year old little girl, she’ll be so excited if we write her back and send her something to her school,’” Humphries said.
That’s when they went home and posted the photo of the message on Facebook, hoping that someone would be able to track Moss down. Now grown up, the child that wrote the letter is now a mother of three that goes by Miranda Moss Chavez, and living in Columbia, South Carolina. Chavez was absolutely stunned when she received a Facebook message about her bottle, saying “The most amazing thing just happened!”
Upon seeing the photo, Chavez said “I immediately recognized it, and it really gave me cold chills because it was just so amazing that, after all this time, that it was found by someone and that they were actually able to find me, especially since I hadn’t live in Union in a long, long time.” Regarding the condition of the letter, she said “I can’t believe that you can almost read every word of that letter – and that it had been in the ocean in a bottle, and it didn’t fill up with water or anything like that.”
Chavez didn’t think that there was any way that someone would discover the bottle, even when she originally set it out to sea. “I remember my mother being really insistent on writing the date on the note for me,” she said. “I threw it as far as I possibly could. I was afraid I would leave and it would wash back up on shore.” Instead, it made a trip that lasted for nearly 90 miles over 30 years and even endured Hurricane Hugo just a year after being thrown.
Even seeing the letter was able to jog memories of that particular day back in 1988 for Chavez, who said “I do remember it being too cold to go swimming. I mean, it’s not like that now, but it was a lot colder – it seems like – then, and I was just looking for something to do.” Not all of the details were remembered, but Chavez says “I do remember (throwing) it, and I remember that I was gonna go ahead and put the note in and my mom reminded me to write the date.”
The bottle even had a few seashells place within to “give it a little bit of weight,” Chavez said. “And I also took the wrapper off the bottle because I remember being worried that it would come off and a sea animal or something would eat it and it would hurt something.” After thinking about the bottle for a couple of years with no response, Chavez started to give up hope, but the message was finally returned.
“I kind of feel like maybe it was a sign from God,” Chavez said. “Because it came back, and it came back to me, and I’ve been going through some things in my life. So it was almost like hope…I have every intention of trying to preserve it.” Chavez now plans on meeting up with the Humphries family to see the beach where the letter was discovered.
“Who would have thought?” she asked. “It’s so awesome how something that small – no matter what you’ve got going on in your life – can take you back to your childhood and to some of the happiest times in your life…It was meant to be found. It was meant to do something, even if it was just to have people have something positive to say for a few days. I guess it served its purpose.”