If there’s one thing Ashlynn Marracino wishes she had the chance to do-over in life, it’s her relationship with her father, Scott Marracino.
The 16-year-old lost her father to an aneurysm in 2009. But long before his sudden death, Ashlynn and her dad had some unresolved issues. Her resentment toward him then is now the regret she carries with her today.
When Ashlynn was younger, Scott spent some time in prison for armed robbery. During his time behind bars, he sent his daughter hundreds of letters and handmade cards.
Never once did Ashlynn write back.
After Scott got out of jail, he turned his life around, and tried desperately to repair his relationship with his daughter, but to no avail. Ashlynn would ignore his attempts to connect with her, and avoid his phone calls at all costs.
Now, there’s only one call she wishes she could have back. The one he made to her right before he died.
“What if he wanted to say, ‘I love you,’” she says, “I would have liked to have said that back, and I didn’t get to.”
Ashlynn lives with that regret every single day. But in an effort to do what she wishes she would have done before it was too late, the teen writes letters to her dad every year on his birthday.
Different than the letters she used to receive from prison, Ashlynn writes her letters on a single balloon.
She tells her dad about all that he’s missed, and all that she wishes he could be here still to experience. But she also tells him that she’s sorry for not writing to him when she still had the chance.
Then she sends the balloon “up to heaven,” in hopes that her father would give her a sign.
In 2015, she got just that.
After releasing her balloon in Whittier, California, the helium-filled mylar object traveled 450 miles to Auburn, California, where restaurant owner Lisa Swissley discovered Ashlynn’s floating message.
It was the sign she’d asked her father for on that very balloon, and it reassured her that not all hope is lost.
May her story serve as a reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Tell your family that you love them today, and fix the relationships that need mending. There are people out there like Ashlynn, who would give just about anything for one final opportunity to do so.