“A Voice From Heaven.” Grieving Family Receives Message In A Bottle After 33 Yrs.

a two-photo collage. on the left there is a picture of a green glass bottle with a message inside, and on the right there is a picture of Brian Dahl in 1989.

Sometimes a message in a bottle can feel more like a message from beyond.

Back in 1989, a teacher at Oxford Middle School in Mississippi created a message in a bottle lesson for her sixth-grade class. They each wrote their names, addresses, and a short note, and sealed it into a bottle with a wax plug, and launched them into the Little Tallahatchie River.

Teacher Martha Burnett taught the students a geography lesson as well, explaining that the bottles could float through the Delta river system straight to the Mighty Mississippi. One of the bottles was found in the late 1990s, which is extraordinary enough, but in 2022, a second bottle was found.

On the Yazoo River Diversion Canal in Vicksburg, Mississippi, nearly 300 miles from Oxford, Billy Mitchell was inspecting a barge for his job with Big River Shipbuilding when he spotted a glimmer of green glass in the water. He took the bottle back to work and painstakingly removed the tattered note inside using BBQ skewers.

“I was shocked and excited,” Billy recalled. “You hear about messages in a bottle, but I never thought I’d find one in the canal over here.”

The note was in tatters, but they could make out a few words, including the date and where it originated.

Big River’s Safety and Compliance Officer Brad Babb saw the note when Billy brought it back to the office. They were excited, and Brad instantly decided to “play detective” to find the child who wrote it 33 years ago. He shared a photo of the note on the company’s social media pages.

It didn’t take long for the note’s rightful owners to come forward.

“This was my son!” wrote Melanie Dahl in a comment on Facebook.

The message was written by Melanie and Eric Dahl’s son, Brian Dahl, when he was just 11 years old. Brian was an athlete who once beat cancer, but he passed away after having an accident at home when he was only 29.

Everyone involved got chills when they realized that Brian’s message had traveled almost 300 miles over 33 years.

“It was like a voice from Heaven,” said Billy. “He’s watching over his parents. I think that was a sign he’s watching over them.”

Brian’s parents couldn’t agree more.

“It’s like something in a fictitious novel or something you’d see on TV,” said Eric. “To see Brian’s handwriting from when he was 11 or 12 years old — it was miraculous.”

After their initial shock wore off, Melanie and Eric agreed it was providence that the message found its way back to them.

Brian was smart and had a great sense of humor. Melanie thinks her son would be “getting a really big kick out of this.”

The workers at Big River Shipbuilding were also moved by the experience. Brad says he spent close to an hour on the phone with Eric after the discovery, and he could tell how much finding the bottle means to them. The Dahl family soon organized a trip to the company to reclaim this piece of their family’s history and thank the workers who made it all happen.

“Something profound has happened that brought us together, so we wanted to do it in person,” Eric explained. “They were like instant family. To see something connect people instantly is a beautiful thing, it was typical of Brian to bring people together. It’s a testament to who he is and was.”

Eric believes the message is just another way that his son touched people’s hearts in life, and how he continues to do so even in death.

“Love never goes away,” he said.

We couldn’t agree more!

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