Every year, 16-year-old Ashlynn Marrcino writes a few words of reflection on a balloon and releases it skyward. It’s been an annual ritual since 2010, when her father unexpectedly died of a brain aneurism. She hopes that, in some way, her message will reach her father.
“I’ve been playing softball for 11 years now,” this year's letter says. “Can you believe it? I Hope you helped me out with all those home runs. I don’t like how I never had you in my life. It’s not fair…Show me a sign please. Anything to let me know you’re there. I miss you so much and I want you back.”
She released her message as usual this year. But, a few weeks after sending her balloon to the sky, something unusual happened. She got a response.
“I think [the balloon] came to us for a reason,” said Lisa Swisley, who found Marccino’s balloon outside of her California restaurant. The balloon travelled over 430 miles before touching down in Auburn, California.
“We started reading it and realized what we had here and got kind of emotional,” Swisley told CBS Sacramento.
After reading the message, Swisley decided to do something about it. She went to the “Pay it Forward in Auburn, California” Facebook page she created recently and shared Marccino’s story. In no time, gifts and letters started pouring in to Marccino.
“I told him to show me a sign, and I think this is a sign to not hold grudges and to forgive really easily,” Marccino says.
In this instance, Marccino says, the person she needs to forgive is herself. On the night before her father’s death, he gave her a call. She didn’t answer – and she’s had trouble forgiving herself for that ever since. In her mind, all of this -- from the balloon being found to the outpouring of gifts and kindness -- is a message from her father. The message?
“That he loves me and let’s not be down or get down on myself,” she said.
Photo Credit: Screenshot, Shaun Fisher/Flickr