“What color would my balloon have been, if it would have been a balloon?” asked Eeyore, eyeing his popped treasure. “Red,” says Pooh.
One of the small miracles I have experienced since losing my mom this May is unexpected moments of joy. Before it happened if I imagined what it would be like when my mother died I thought I would be depressed for a long, long time. I pictured myself lying in bed, listless or crazy with grief. It has been almost four months and I am still grieving. The heaviness has receded a bit. This weekend we went to the Hale Hot Air Balloon Festival and they had the coolest thing. You could get a free balloon to send up into the sky to honor a loved one. We lined up: AJ, Kaiden and I with Phee in her stroller and got our balloons. We decided to write on AJ’s red balloon from Kaiden’s perspective, “For Nana, We love you.” Kaiden got his favorite color, orange and I ended up with a sunny yellow balloon. We walked up the hill to join the others with their balloons. The field was full of people and balloons. We waited patiently for the last few people, waiting to release them. Although I tried to encourage Kaiden by telling him that when his orange balloon got to heaven Nana would see it and smile, as he let it go he started to cry. “I wanted to keep it,” he whined. I know just how he feels.
I didn’t want to let go of my mother. I wanted to hold on to her forever and ever. I wanted to tell Kaiden that sometimes you have to let go of the beautiful things in your life because they can’t stay forever. I wanted him to know that we have to be brave. That sometimes life doesn’t make sense. That letting go will serve him far more than holding on. But at 5, he doesn’t understand and he probably shouldn’t understand. I want his heart to remain unbroken for as long as possible. So, I went over to the souvenir stand and I bought him a hot air balloon shaped punching bag. When he came out of the bounce house I presented him with the brightly colored present and he grinned.
I leaned down and unbuckled Phee from her stroller. We walked over to the petting farm area and I showed her the bunnies and the sheep. As she squealed and pointed, I thought of the most important lesson my mother ever taught me. Just put one foot in front of the other. Keep going.