Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Story of the Red Heart Shaped Balloon

July 11, 2012                                                         10:52 a.m

The Story of the Red Heart Shaped Balloon

The story of the red, heart shaped balloon began on Valentine’s Day 2012, just a little over three months after Brynna passed away.  Jackson had preschool that day and when I picked him up in the afternoon he had a red heart shaped helium balloon that his teachers had given him. 

As we pulled into the driveway I was keeping in mind all the balloons we have lost while exiting the car, and I reminded Jack to keep a firm hold on the string.  Then I said, “or you could let it go and send it up to your sister for Valentine’s Day…”  Jack said, “no” he didn’t want to send it up, and he very carefully took it inside.  I have to admit, I was a tiny bit saddened that we weren’t sending Brynn a love note in the shape of a red heart that day, but I didn’t think much past it as I followed Jack into the house. 

After a few minutes inside, I remembered I needed to get something out of my car, so I headed back out to the front yard.  When I got done in my car and was walking back into the house, something in the sky caught my eye.  Off in the distance, passed the entrance to our neighborhood and out over some old farm land, a red heart shaped balloon was floating higher and higher into the sky.  A balloon exactly like the one I was secretly wishing Jack would send up to his sister.  I remember thinking, “what are the chances that a balloon exactly like his, would be floating up in my line of vision at exactly the time I went out to my car?”  It made me smile and I thought, “well Brynn, you’re getting your balloon after all.”

After just a few short hours in our house, Jack’s balloon was lost to the very upper reaches of our two story tall entryway near the front door.  As so many other balloons in our house had done, this one ended up far out of arm’s reach, and we just had to wait for it to lose enough helium and float back down.

Normally this happens within days, sometimes weeks….but not this balloon.  Jack’s heart shaped red balloon stayed up there the rest of February, all of March, and all of April without losing any helium at all.  Never sinking an inch.

Near the beginning of May, our broken family was planning a trip to California for my brother Conner’s wedding.  I was happy to be going to share in the joy of the start of Conner and Cassie’s new life, but I was emotionally run down and exhausted from the grief of losing our daughter.  I had very mixed feelings about being away from the house for a week.  I felt like I was going to miss Brynn even more by not being within easy access of her room or her ashes.  Strange emotion to have, I know, but this is a grieving mom's reality.

As we left for the airport early in the morning, I walked over to the piano where her ashes rest, and kissed her urn goodbye telling her we’d be back soon.  As I walked out the door, laden with luggage and very sleepy eyed boys, I passed under the still perfectly full and floating balloon.

Our trip to California had many very good moments, but it also came with several very significant low ones.  We took the boys to Disneyland three times while we were there, and that was incredibly difficult.  The last time I had been in Disneyland, I was pregnant with Brynna.  

The wedding was beautiful, but also very difficult emotionally.  I was finding it very hard to gear up to be happy on the outside when on the inside I was so very broken.  A few days before it was time to come home, I was spent emotionally.  I broke down to Steven and I broke down to my mom.  I just needed to be home, “closer” to my daughter.  I also knew though, after having done the grief thing for several months, that there was bound to be a very low stretch of time once we got home where the permanence of our situation was going to wash back over me.  It always happened after being away.  Always.

When we finally walked through the door late that Tuesday night, there in front of the piano, floating at the exact same level as Brynna’s urn, was the red, heart shaped balloon.  Still appearing inflated, the balloon had descended from it’s corner in our entryway after 3 long months, and was there to greet me when I needed it most. 

I immediately felt like Brynn was there with us.  I felt she was welcoming us home, and I was so happy to see her.

As I expected, the next day was awful.  Steven had returned to work and the boys were all at school.  It was all I could do to stand upright.  I was overcome with sadness and despair as I realized, for what seemed the millionth time, that our daughter, our sweet girl, was gone.  Our house was too quiet.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way….

Sometime in the afternoon, after soaking my pillow with thousands of salty tears, I decided to get in the shower, and “wash the sad off.”  Like I had done so many times before, I sat on the built in seat in our shower, and let the hot water run over my head.  I cried.  I sobbed.  I moaned.  And then I stood up and rinsed it all off.

When I stepped out of the shower and reached for my towel, something caught my eye.  There, just outside the bathroom door, a flight of stairs up from where it had been the night before, and a bit more deflated, floating right at the height that a toddler might hold it, was the red heart shaped balloon. 

My little girl was there again.  Telling me she was with me and comforting my broken heart. 

Well this time, I KISSED that red heart shaped balloon and I said, “I see you.  Thank you.”

In one of the grief groups we go to, one of the bereaved fathers has said that he believes in these “signs”.  He says, if we believe them to be a sign of love, or some comfort from beyond, then that is enough.  It is what we need it to be.  It cannot be explained any more or less than that.  If we need it, and we see it, and it helps, than that is the purpose.

I believe him.

(a picture of the balloon the day it appeared in my room after my shower)

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