Tugboat captain Willie Bunce of Stanwood, who steers boats that push gravel barges on the Snohomish River, stopped the tug.
A deckhand on the Driftwood noticed a bottle floating under the U.S. 2 trestle.
They hauled it in.
Bunce had to break open the Corona bottle sealed by a cork. Inside was this note:
“My wonderful son.
“It has been a very hard year since you passed. There are so many decisions I question when it comes to you.
“Should I have tried harder in that difficult situation with your mom? Should I have been easier on you? Harder on you? There was definitely a couple of times I think I should have kept the pecking order more in line, and I know there were times that I absolutely did.
“I wonder if where you are, now that all is clear about our lives and maybe far beyond our realm, there are answers you now know to the really deep questions. Do you know that my initial reaction was one of relief?
“A very selfish reaction on my part, but you probably already know that there was so much fear I had surrounding your life and I was very worried that what might happen if something occurred and I was liable for your actions and I had to pay monetarily and emotionally as well?
“You must also know that there is nothing I would not give to have you back and to hug you and let you know how much you are loved. By me, by really everyone.
“The world is not as bright a place since you have been gone. I am hoping that first year was the hardest and I will learn to cope better for me and everyone’s sake.
“My business has suffered and I emotionally have had the hardest time ever. The holidays sucked and it was very dark for me. Since I have been going to the survivors of suicide program, I think it has been a lot better.
“What I am really taking away from it is I need to bury the hard times we went through and to remember to celebrate your smile, your laugh and your heart, which was so huge.
“I am learning to appreciate you, son, more fully each day and my hope is all I come in contact with will be better off because I had you in my life.
“I love you. Dad.”
A vial in the bottle with the note appeared to contain ashes.
Bunce, 53, and his crew stayed a minute, taking time to sprinkle the contents into the river.
Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.