Reader report: Teen finds ‘mystery gift’ on West Seattle bench

February 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 85 Comments

Out of the WSB inbox tonight, that photo and this note:

My name is Gabriella and I am 15 years old. I wanted to share my experience because I found it touching and very sweet.

While on a bike ride to take photos today, I found a gift sitting on a bench with a note attached that read “To the finder of this gift” overlooking the Seattle skyline near Salty’s.

I sat on the bench and opened the card, which was from a woman remembering her younger sister today, which would have been her 59th birthday. The woman shared her younger sister’s interests, accomplishments and love of life, and how she died suddenly in 2001 due to a pulmonary embolism from a foot injury. The gift was left at this location because her sister’s ashes were scattered on Alki and she loved the view of the skyline.

In the letter, the writer asked the finder of the gift to please express their love to those they care about. She also said that she learned that “all our love, memories, and connections are still there as true and strong as ever” even after death. The writer expressed her deep love for her sister and that the best parts of her are still with her.

I hope the writer of this letter sees this and knows how much it touched me.

P.S. The gift was a LED head lamp for riding and was with a card that read, “May a luminous dream light the way.”

Thank you, Gabriella

FRIDAY NIGHT POSTSCRIPT: Our friends at KING 5 read this too, and asked if we could put them in touch with Gabriella. Here’s the resulting story.


  1. Aww… that is so sweet! What a wonderful way to remember her sister. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by abstract — 10:12 pm February 2, 2012 #

  2. Oh, that is so sweet. Thanks for sharing Gabriella :)

    Comment by traci — 10:15 pm February 2, 2012 #

  3. This just brought a smile to my face, and after a very long day was just what I needed to brighten my mood!

    Comment by Veteran Wisdom — 10:15 pm February 2, 2012 #

  4. What a fabulous idea!
    And Gabriella, I am sure that this gift came to you at the right time. When you needed some ‘light’.

    Love to you both,

    Comment by k — 10:16 pm February 2, 2012 #

  5. That made my night. Thank you.

    Comment by Wsmom — 10:17 pm February 2, 2012 #

  6. This is a beautiful story and it is so true that we need to show those we love how we feel everyday, nobody knows when their time is up.

    Comment by Soccer Mom — 10:20 pm February 2, 2012 #

  7. This is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve heard. I am touched and encouraged to express my love to those I care about, too.

    Thank you for sharing this story, Gabriella

    Comment by Syd — 10:20 pm February 2, 2012 #

  8. Awesome.

    Comment by Eric — 10:21 pm February 2, 2012 #

  9. Very nice. All is calm, all is bright. Thanks for your story.

    Comment by Aman — 10:24 pm February 2, 2012 #

  10. Thanks for sharing, Gabriella! Brought a tear to my eye (in a good way).

    Comment by Vicki — 10:28 pm February 2, 2012 #

  11. :-D

    Comment by pigeonmom — 10:32 pm February 2, 2012 #

  12. What they all said – plus one!

    Comment by MMB — 10:33 pm February 2, 2012 #

  13. What a wonderful way to remember a loved one. I am glad you share this with us, Gabriella!

    Comment by LyndaB — 10:36 pm February 2, 2012 #

  14. What a sweet thing to do.

    Comment by datamuse — 10:36 pm February 2, 2012 #

  15. fantastic :)

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 10:38 pm February 2, 2012 #

  16. There is something in my eye.

    Comment by mookie — 10:40 pm February 2, 2012 #

  17. “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” -Willy Wonka

    Comment by Yossarian — 10:40 pm February 2, 2012 #

  18. This is why West Seattle is the greatest place EVER.

    Comment by ElizabethElaine — 10:41 pm February 2, 2012 #

  19. That’s amazing – thank you for sharing.

    Comment by raincity — 10:45 pm February 2, 2012 #

  20. What a lovely story.

    And a compliment to WSB that Gabriella’s first instinct (I’m guessing) for spreading her story was by sending it to WSB.

    Comment by Ian — 10:45 pm February 2, 2012 #

  21. I had a friend pass away today, and she is correct.
    “all our love, memories and connections are still there as true and stong as ever.”

    Thank you, such a old soul at 15 to recognize how important this is & for sharing.

    Comment by AM — 10:50 pm February 2, 2012 #

  22. oh dear. tearing up now. that is so touching. :)

    Comment by ET — 10:53 pm February 2, 2012 #

  23. That is so lovely.

    Comment by Bonnie — 10:54 pm February 2, 2012 #

  24. What a truly touching experience for you Gabriella, thank you for sharing this with us all.

    Comment by Seatttleseabug — 10:57 pm February 2, 2012 #

  25. One of the best stories ever on the blog. That is just what I needed to read today. Thank you!

    Comment by born, raised, & still in ws — 11:18 pm February 2, 2012 #

  26. Wow…. This will make me think…. And smile….. For quite while….

    Comment by Beach pup — 11:48 pm February 2, 2012 #

  27. Wow a gift that keeps on giving-thank you

    Comment by me — 12:47 am February 3, 2012 #

  28. Not to be a downer, but that’s not as cool as it would have been pre 9/11. Anything could have been in that “gift” really. It’s just not ok to leave stuff out like that any more. It’s a shame, but if someone else had found it, he or she might have called the police. Anyone would have been totally in the right to have the pros check out the gift in a plastic bag. It’s just the way the world is now.

    Comment by Sorry — 12:56 am February 3, 2012 #

  29. thank you.. there are angels among us….

    Comment by karen — 3:26 am February 3, 2012 #

  30. Wow! What an amazing and touching story in a world that often times seems so full of doubt and fear. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Trina — 5:20 am February 3, 2012 #

  31. Love this!!

    Comment by SudsyMaggie — 5:29 am February 3, 2012 #

  32. So that’s all touching an all that, but this isn’t a utopian world and anyone that opens a strange package sitting on a bench somewhere might be in for a pretty nasty surprise someday. In many parts of the world, the US included, an unattended package in a public place can mask a deadly device – explosive, anthrax, etc. Note the recent response to an unattended package near the Junction QFC.

    Hate to to a Debbie-Downer (an Eddie-End-O-the-world?), but nice as the story sounds (and turned out) it could have had much worse consequences

    Comment by Eddie — 6:08 am February 3, 2012 #

  33. This is beautiful and touching. My husband died on Feb 2, 1999 and today, Feb 3, would have been his 50th birthday. This story touched my heart and made me weep. Even though I have moved on, remarried and have a wonderful life now, I will never forget his beautiful soul and all the wonderful memories we shared together so young.

    “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~ Eskimo Proverb

    Comment by OldPink — 6:42 am February 3, 2012 #

  34. What a nice story, gave me goosebumps.

    Comment by Patri o'connor — 7:25 am February 3, 2012 #

  35. To Sorry & Eddie: I said the same thing when this was posted on facebook and had some negative comments directed at me for living my life in fear. I’m right, you’re right. We will enjoy all of our fingers and lung function while others may not.

    Comment by Jennifer — 7:56 am February 3, 2012 #

  36. This just made my morning! Great way to start a Friday!

    Comment by B — 7:59 am February 3, 2012 #

  37. This totally made my day, a reminder to all of us! Thank you for sharing, Gabriella.

    Comment by Patti — 8:28 am February 3, 2012 #

  38. You shouldn’t make me cry at work ; ) So sweet, I could sure use some of that.

    Comment by msc — 8:29 am February 3, 2012 #

  39. I am so glad Gabriella found this and cared and shared!! We all need a reminder that there is good in the world.

    Comment by Cclarue — 8:37 am February 3, 2012 #

  40. I am so sick of hearing about the “post-911 world” and how much things have changed. I grew up in the greater NYC area and had many, many feelings after September 11, 2001. But I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to see “gift packages” such as this one as inherently ominous. I will not view the glass as half empty forever. This doesn’t mean that I throw caution to the wind, but I refuse to believe that something bad might happen or that the sky is falling. I believe such actions only paralyze us as humans.

    Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this story is that of inspiration. If more people performed such wonderful random acts we might actually be able to overcome the fear mongering. We would win.

    Comment by ElevenEleven — 8:42 am February 3, 2012 #

  41. All misty at that one. What a beautiful story.

    Comment by Reeve — 8:48 am February 3, 2012 #

  42. Made my morning too! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Angel — 8:51 am February 3, 2012 #

  43. Wordy response here. Oh well. I would have done what Gabriella did – read the card first and see what was going on. I lived in London during the height of the IRA bombings in the mid- to late eighties. Among other things, they were blowing up public garbage cans, like the ones we have at all our Metro stops, and so you could just be walking down the street on a normal work day and then suddenly – BOOM! – your life blows up along with the remote controlled explosive.
    What I remember, and what has stayed with me and been a powerful tool for coping with a post-9/11 world, is the way that people simply co-existed with that possibility without letting it in any way limit their activities or their enjoyment of their lives. They were practical and realistic, but did not dwell on it. People set the fear aside because carrying it with you every step destroys something vital in the human spirit.
    Life is a risky proposition and we all take much greater actual and real risks when we drive or ride in a car, cross a busy intersection, or walk down a flight of stairs – these things claim many lives every single day. But we’ve accepted the risk and it doesn’t impede us, even though the probability of a bad outcome is decidedly real each time we do these things.
    If one looks at probability, rather than possibility, one can achieve a certain kind of perspective that really helps keep fear from becoming the primary lens through which one views the world. That which is possible is not always actually very probable. Grabriella, thank you so much for being the kind of person who recognizes a gift like that for what it is and for sharing it with us.

    Comment by Scooterista — 9:00 am February 3, 2012 #

  44. Our family was very touched by your story. We would love to talk to you about an idea. 206-795-9967.

    Comment by Debbie — 9:04 am February 3, 2012 #

  45. Scooterista, You said it beautifully.

    Comment by Brian M. — 9:22 am February 3, 2012 #

  46. +1, ElevenEleven and Scooterista. Beautifully said. I firmly believe there is more good than bad.

    Comment by Valerie — 9:32 am February 3, 2012 #

  47. ElevenEleven & Scooterista – yes, Yes, YES! Good will always prevail in my world.

    Comment by SudsyMaggie — 9:40 am February 3, 2012 #

  48. To the gift-giver, Gabriella, ElevenEleven and Scooterista: thank you for sharing your touching, positive stories and outlook. It rejuvenates my faith in humankind. :-)

    Comment by beebee — 10:15 am February 3, 2012 #

  49. This is so wonderful! Well said ElevenEleven and Scooterista!!

    Comment by The Beems — 11:10 am February 3, 2012 #

  50. Many thanks to Gabriella, WSB, Jennifer, Eddie, Scooterista and all who cared enough to share their thoughts with this community. Each of us must judge the level of risk in each situation — while being open to gifts like this one. We can respect and be grateful for each perspective shared.

    Comment by WS Neighbor — 11:32 am February 3, 2012 #

  51. Love it!! Thank you so much for sharing and passing this gift on to me and all of us!!!

    Comment by WestsideMom — 12:00 pm February 3, 2012 #

  52. I’m with you, ElevenEleven and Scooterista! I absolutely refuse to look for the bad in any situation or person, always have, and it hasn’t steered me wrong so far. In fact, I’ve had experiences based on this premise that otherwise I wouldn’t have had, and I’d have been the poorer for it!

    My motto has always been to jump into life with both feet (and eyes closed sometimes… lol), always expecting the best. I imagine that a life where I would have come across the gift in the story and moved away quickly without opening it (or calling 911!) would be so sad.

    It might kill me one day, but damn – at least I’ll have LIVED!!! :)

    Comment by RarelyEver — 12:12 pm February 3, 2012 #

  53. Gabriella -
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us and honoring both this woman & her sister with your testimony. You are one blessed lady and I find it touching that you would think to share on WSB. Thank you for being a light into this dark world!

    Comment by LE — 1:03 pm February 3, 2012 #

  54. At least it wasn’t a box of flares.

    Comment by Bob H. — 1:20 pm February 3, 2012 #

  55. Wow, my heart just melted as I read this. Very touching. Glad you received this special gift Gabriella.

    Comment by David — 1:39 pm February 3, 2012 #

  56. Must. . . . .not. . . . .cry. . . . at. . . . work. . . . .nice story.

    Comment by 2 Much Whine — 1:42 pm February 3, 2012 #

  57. There are more beautiful gifts and memories of people we have loved than there are suspicious packages in this world. What a wonderful way to share the memory of this sister with all of us!

    Comment by AJP — 1:52 pm February 3, 2012 #

  58. Very touching. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Robin — 2:08 pm February 3, 2012 #

  59. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Comment by Debra — 2:21 pm February 3, 2012 #

  60. LOVE

    Comment by k — 2:28 pm February 3, 2012 #

  61. Thank you so much for reading this and I’m so happy it touched most of you guys like it did me. The full story will be on KOMO 4 news at 5pm!

    Comment by Gabriella — 2:36 pm February 3, 2012 #

  62. Thank you for sharing your story. Reading this brought a tear to my eye and made me call my sisters to let them know how much I love them.

    Comment by ddavis — 3:01 pm February 3, 2012 #

  63. Thank you for sharing this, Gabriella. You were the perfect person to receive this gift. And thank for choosing not to live your life in fear.
    Sorry and Eddie – Do you realize how infinitesimally small the chances of being the victim of terrorism are? A five minute drive to the grocery store is far most dangerous. 9/11 was a criminal act by a small group of thugs and nut cases who got very lucky. Sure, it was horrible, but the over-reaction by many, much of it fanned for political gain, resulted in the death and maiming of far far more innocent people than were killed on that terrible day. It nearly bankrupted this country and generated a global fear and hatred, mostly toward the US, that will take generations to heal. Gabriella took one small step in that healing process and I thank her for that.

    Comment by brin — 3:40 pm February 3, 2012 #

  64. super duper love

    Comment by pumpkin — 4:21 pm February 3, 2012 #

  65. I completely agree with Brin! Let me just say that Gabriella is my hero. And I’m sure alot of other people will agree. :)
    Although I dont know this young lady, I am immensly proud of her and absolutely love this story that she was kind enough to share.
    So Gabriella, thankyou.

    Comment by Nyrat Smithers — 4:45 pm February 3, 2012 #

  66. A wonderful story and memory shared. Hopefully through our positive actions like this one, all of us will learn to live with common sense, and not let fear control our life. The minute we give power to the “threat of terrorism”, it cancels out so many thoughtful and nice gestures of a caring community.

    Comment by T — 5:47 pm February 3, 2012 #

  67. I don’t really believe in “fate” or that certain things are just “meant to be” but damn, Miss Gabriella was absolutely the person meant to find this gift. I’m glad it wasn’t found by someone more jaded (like myself) who might have looked at it with suspicion, and who may have chosen to report it to authorities.

    And it was a biking light–found by a bicyclist. Is that fate or what? Shoot–now I’ve gotta go rethink my whole outlook on the universe. :-)

    Thanks to the gift-giver and to Gabriella for bringing “light” to all of us today!

    Comment by The Velvet Bulldog — 5:49 pm February 3, 2012 #

  68. So heartwarming — very glad she shared her story
    I’m going to “Hear, Hear!!” What @WS Neighbor said. Well said!

    I don’t think that what Sorry, Eddie, and others who agree with what they said are “living in fear” — I think they’re just aware of risks, and that’s a fantastic thing.

    Frankly, I don’t know what I would have done in the situation; and I think it’s a bit rude to “flame” individuals who think twice about taking things at face value. It’s the same as suspicious packages being reported IMHO — it’s okay to err on the side of caution too.

    Regardless, this is all getting in the way of what turned out to be a sweet story.

    Comment by interrobang — 5:56 pm February 3, 2012 #

  69. Too cay-ute. Someone should leave another “mystery” gift, as response to such a charming gesture. Let them know there’s still love I’n the eyes of the comrades of this town. Kind of a way of saying “this gift marks the first stepping stone I’n the lake of randomness, which I’s lit up by the sun of spirituality, and moonshine of the heavy drinker”. Dang? I think so. I am so touched to know kind voices are being heard throughgout WS- and this time not only I’n my head!! Love it. Much

    Comment by R-smoke — 6:58 pm February 3, 2012 #

  70. Gabby, this small moment could not have happened to a better person. I hope you captured it for ever in your heart and mind. Thank you so much for making my week.
    Ms. McK

    Comment by Ms. McKittrick — 7:02 pm February 3, 2012 #

  71. Here’s the KOMO 4 video:



    Comment by miws — 11:01 pm February 3, 2012 #

  72. Our friends at KING spoke with Gabriella tonight as well:

    Comment by WSB — 11:08 pm February 3, 2012 #

  73. Tracy, it’s great to see that the West Seattle Blog received a nice plug from King 5 TV for the assistance provided on this story. Much deserved recognition…

    Gabriella, by sharing this story with the West Seattle Blog and the local TV stations, you have magnificently expressed your love with those you care about, just as the card requested. Bravo and thank you!

    Comment by Pibal — 12:41 am February 4, 2012 #

  74. It’s so nice to know that not every package left in public would be left by someone who might want to hurt us. Humanity has such luminous moments sometimes and this one came for me just in time, too! Interestingly, I’ve been to West Seattle, and I Love, Love, Love it.

    Comment by Kathy — 9:14 am February 5, 2012 #

  75. :) What a great way to share the memories of her sister. Thanks for sharing this story!

    Comment by ttt — 10:46 pm February 5, 2012 #

  76. RarelyEver – I am “stealing” your quote, “It might kill me one day, but damn – at least I’ll have LIVED!!!” and putting it on my monitor at work and at home. Wonderfully said! Thank you!

    Comment by ElevenEleven — 12:05 pm February 6, 2012 #

  77. Whoooo!!! Go gabby!! I’m so happy for you and glad you made a shout out to our fourth period at WSHS!! I read your story and watched the videos, and it made me in a happier mood! Thank you for this and love you girl!!

    Comment by Emily — 7:52 pm February 6, 2012 #

  78. Hi. I am Karen’s husband, now living in Cincinnati. I just learned of this story. Thank you Gabriella for sharing. You seem the perfect person to have found Elaine’s gift. Karen was my gift and I’ll forever have her in my heart.

    Comment by Don Ramey — 4:39 am February 7, 2012 #

  79. Regarding the 9/11 posts, Karen died before 9/11. She lived in the pre 9/11 world, so it is fitting that the gestures her sister makes every year honor Karen and the world she was a part of. We may be a damaged country but we aren’t destroyed. There is still hope, love and light.

    Comment by judi — 9:23 am February 7, 2012 #

  80. Thank for you sharing this beautiful story. I only just found out that the wonderful woman who left that gift is a co-worker of mine. I feel grateful to know her and work with her. Bless you!

    Comment by CG — 10:13 am February 7, 2012 #

  81. Inspiring! So many more reasons to open that package than to not…

    One of my favorite thoughts regarding fear…while healthy and certain levels…when focused on more than not…it can be more tragic than any real act of terrorism (which is ulitmately their goal).

    I once heard a simple story about fearing the unknown…

    Dogs rarely have fear any unless they’ve been trained to by negative experiences. Same basic thing in children which leads into adulthood.

    Put yourself behind an door in an unfamiliar setting and close the door

    Call your dog in the same voice you would normally call your dog.

    The dog will come to the door and will do anything it can to get to you behind that door – without regard to anything else behind that door…

    It just knows one thing…its Master is there…and it believes enough it that one thing to want to go through the door.

    When your Master calls you…you go through the unknown door.

    Comment by DG — 3:55 pm February 7, 2012 #

  82. Dear Gabriella,

    For the last 10 years, I’ve left a birthday gift and card to honor my sister Karen who died in 2001. She delighted in giving and receiving presents. I’ve spent hours wondering who finds these gifts and what their reactions might be. For the first time, I now have some answers to those questions.

    Gabriella–you are an absolutely amazing “finder of the gift”. Your life affirming actions of opening & receiving the gift(s) honors my sister Karen–more than anything I could have hoped for or imagined. Thank you for being the source of such a beautiful gift coming back to me and others. Your youthful and wise spirit discerned the power represented in this memorial. Your words inspired and blessed. My story is now part of your story. Your story is part now part of mine.

    Please keep looking for and opening the gifts that life presents to us.

    With much gratitude,

    Comment by Lainey — 12:08 am February 8, 2012 #

  83. I’m just glad some idiot didn’t call the bomb squad and have the beach shut down while they blow it up to “be safe”.

    Comment by Erich — 7:51 am February 8, 2012 #

  84. Another good West Seattle story.

    Comment by olivia — 12:00 pm February 8, 2012 #

  85. Dont you just love West Seattle? Thank you Pat and Tracy and all others involved for sharing this story.

    Comment by BobL — 1:54 am February 11, 2012 #

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