Monday, October 17, 2011

Rising to heaven...

Fourteen of us have trailed behind the hospice bereavement coordinator and the chaplain, each holding blue and white helium balloons on ribbons that are tied together in a knot. We gather around them in the parking lot of the senior citizens center. It is warm, the sky is bright blue, and a breeze suddenly springs up to tug at the balloons.

The manager of hospice medical services comes with scissors and cuts a balloon free from the knot and hands one to each one of us. Our son had lovely blue eyes. I ask for a blue balloon. I will later realize that this was a mistake. I should have gotten white.

The chaplain and the bereavement coordinator speak a few words. The symbolism of releasing the balloons in connection with the death of our loved ones is obvious. We let our balloons go. The woman next to me says “The souls of our loved ones rising to heaven.” 

They race up into sky climbing higher and higher. I am able to watch my balloon for quite a while, until the blue of the balloon blends with the blue sky and I can no longer see it. The white balloons remain visible.

The last time I cried was several weeks ago when I unexpectedly found the birthday card he gave me last year. The last birthday card I got from him. I will never get another birthday card from him.

I start to cry, again, as the balloon symbolizing our son fades into invisibility and I can no longer see it. I feel alone and isolated. And then the moment passes.

We return to the dining room. I visit a bit with the woman who was sitting next to me, whose son died of AIDS, and another woman whose son died of cancer, and another woman whose daughter died. I no longer feel so alone.

Eventually the balloons will pop and the shreds of rubber with the attached ribbon will fall back to earth as litter someplace. The bodies of our loved ones will eventually become dust or ashes, but least their souls will not end up as litter.


Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son. I cannot imagine what it cost you to write it. You gave us a piece of your soul in these words. Nathaniel still has a very special mother. My heart is with you.

Susan said...

What a nice tribute. Just having lost our beloved daughter, Suzette, just 4 months ago this Wednesay (the 19th) I can so relate.

Tami Weingartner said...


Wanda..... said...

Touching post Leilani. I hope future moments of aloneness pass quickly and you find comfort in your memories of Nathaniel.

Have Myelin? said...

Beautiful tribute. I felt your pain as I thought about my Nicole.

Your son has a very special mother. Has, not had. I feel when we do things like this we are creating new memories with the child we lost and it's precious to us.

Maggie May said...

Oh.......... this is so sad but so beautiful to read.
I can't think of anything more terrible than losing one's children before us.
Keep strong.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Far Side of Fifty said...

You will forever be Nathaniel's don't have to let go of that. It must have been a beautiful ceremony..sad but beautiful:)