In Castaway Bottles: Regret About It


Have you ever had one of those moments when your mind decided to revisit events you would rather forget? Yeah, it’s not fun. I’d rather not brood over the past, but I know I will have to face it eventually. This came up in a conversation I was having with a friend. She suggested that I take a closer look at these regrets in my life and write them down as a way of processing and venting. Most of the regrets I’ve held onto were just words I wish I could have said at crucial moments. I’m hoping that by writing them all down somewhere, I can finally stop revisiting my “what if I had done this or that” loop and move on. Originally, I thought of sending these letters to the people involved, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that. Besides, it’s been a while and they’ve probably forgotten. I might as well just put them in a bottle and throw it in the ocean or something.

Not long afterward, I took her advice by starting to sketch out some ideas and writing down some refrains from my endless internal monologue. Halfway through the process, my pencil slid off the desk onto the ground. I reached down to pick it up, but unfortunately, I end up kicking it away towards five sheets of crumpled up paper I had thrown earlier into the corner. In other words, my previous attempts. Who would’ve known it would be so hard to condense all these thoughts into one letter? Many sighs (and drafts) later, I had written:

Dear Grandma,

If there was any place in time that I could do all over again, it would be the moment that began this whole thing. The one event that led to three years of indirect communication among family members and caused a rift between bonds I never thought could break so easily.

Looking back, there were so many things that neither side understood about each other. There were too many occurrences when someone spoke without thinking things through, which led to hurt feelings and isolation. If only everyone was able to communicate directly and respectfully; perhaps this all could have been avoided?

So here, I write to you, years later. Now, I have a better grasp of how our family feels and behaves, so I can now write my final words and leave them all here. All I ask is for you to read every word so that you can begin to understand what we have gone through.

Do you remember when it started? Back then I didn’t think much of it because I wasn’t aware that you would respond so sensitively. Maybe from your perspective, it felt as if mom was abandoning you, but she simply needed a break. What child wouldn’t need a break from their parents once in a while? Especially when she’s been running around taking care of her family on top of attending to your needs as well, for the past fifteen years?

It’s not like you had nowhere else to go. You had four children. Maybe you could have spent three months in each of your children’s homes every year? But at the same time, I understand that the constant change in environment would tire you out, both mentally and physically. I wouldn’t want to put you through that at such a fragile age. I also don’t want you to feel like you were just “a thing” being rotated among the sisters.

I don’t know exactly how long after my mom proposed to her sisters about having you stay over at one of their homes for a bit, but as you know, it was interpreted in a bad light. Word spread and made its way back to you through the grapevine. I remember hearing grandpa was pretty angry about it and thought my mom was throwing you out. But knowing my own mother and how this crisis unfolded, I knew this was far from true.