A message of comfort from a bottle

Barbara Layton
Jana Shinn recently received a photo of the bottle with the contents from the family who found it while at Myrtle Beach.

From books to music, to movies, we have all heard stories about a message in a bottle. A note written, placed in a bottle, and thrown out to sea, never knowing if anyone will ever see the note or find the message.

A local woman, Jana Shinn, lost her mother to complications of rheumatoid arthritis in May of 2010. Her mother, Debra Lee Goodwin, was diagnosed with the crippling autoimmune disease at just 21-years-old.

Shinn said for years her mother had wanted to go to the beach; however, due to her condition, the trip would be too hard on her body.

“She never got to see the beach,” Shinn said.

Five-years after Goodwin’s passing, Shinn and her family decided to take a family trip to North Myrtle Beach, both in honor and memory of her mother.

While on their trip, Shinn decided to write her own message in a bottle about her mother, and toss it out to sea.

“Honestly, I don’t even remember what I wrote exactly,” Shinn said. “I just remember writing the message and throwing it into the water.”

Shinn said it was just something she did to help her find some peace and comfort during a hard time in her life. She admits she never expected to hear anything more about the letter.

With another five-years having gone by, she was more than surprised when she recently received a strange Facebook message from a lady who said she had found Shinn’s letter.

The message said, “We found it in the ocean at Myrtle Beach. It was very emotional for us. My mom had just passed a few months before. We all took part in reading that letter and cried like babies. There were probably 20 of us, we cried, and prayed.”

Shinn said she was in shock.

“I had almost forgot about writing the letter,” she said.

Shinn said that she did not include her address, or a phone number on the message she had put in the bottle, just her name. The lady who found the bottle took a chance of locating the correct Jana Shinn on Facebook. It just so happened it was the correct Shinn.

She couldn’t believe how the bottle had traveled for five-years and was found by someone who needed it the most at that specific time in their life.

“What got me the most was how my mother had passed away and she had lost her mother too,” Shinn said. “It’s funny how life changes and yet someone’s loss can be another family’s peace and comfort.”

Shinn said it was inspiring how a letter she wrote for her own peace of mind, turned out to be the peace of mind this other family needed with the loss of their mother.

“All in all, I really believe it’s my mother's way of letting me know she read the letter through these people,” she said. “That’s what makes it so comforting to me.”

A photo of Shinn's actual letter that was found in the bottle she threw out to sea five years ago.