helium balloons, birthday good-byes, and remembories

A balloon race in Fetcham shortly after the ba...

A balloon race in Fetcham shortly after the balloons were launched (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two years ago, we wished my mother happy birthday as she slipped in and out of consciousness. Next to her bed so she could see it should she awake, I put a large helium balloon tied onto a yellow ribbon. A transparent “window” gave a view into a springtime garden. With a backdrop of greens, pinks, yellows, and violets an April garden might hold, a banner displaying the words “happy birthday” in calligraphic script stretched across the blue of the sky, held at each end by a butterfly. For many years, she had worn a necklace of tiny gold links; at the center of the chain, a delicate lacy butterfly was suspended.

On a grey, blustered day last year, I put another balloon next to my mother in hono(u)r of her birthday; placed by her gravestone rather than at the head of a hospital bed.

Among the grey of granite and marble with clouds hanging low, with the air filled with chill and sorrow, the balloon, dancing with the wind, was a bright spot of colo(u)r.

Today she would have been 84; I wore her necklace and filigreed butterfly earrings as I had on the day we laid her to rest next to my father.

Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of her death; I will buy a brightly colo(u)red helium balloon tied to a yellow ribbon. In the park, I will let go of the string that binds the balloon to me, to the earth. I will watch it sail upwards, dancing on the wind, until it is a tiny speck of colo(u)r against the backdrop of the sky.

Happy birthday, Mom, two years on.

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10 thoughts on “helium balloons, birthday good-byes, and remembories

  1. What a loving tribute to your mother.

    My mother’s birthday was New Year’s Day…it’s a hard one for me. Hard to honor her when all the celebrating is going on. We do acknowledge it, but it just doesn’t seem as special.
    We do take time to honor her on the date of her death…unfortunately closer to my birthday. We talk about her, pull out photos, and eat her favorite food – PIZZA!
    This year will be 19 years. She died at 64, 2 weeks before I turned 30. I still think she sent Sandy to me to help me through it all…and so much more. Now she has gone to join her.
    I wonder if at some point they will send me some thing else to help me get through all of this…but then again, I do have Stuart and Max (who has become the most clingy cat since she died. He does not want to be away from me for long….I wonder if Sandy told him to watch out for me?)

    Again….a very lovely tribute to your mother. We’ll have to think of something special for Sandy.

    hugs to us both.
    wendy

    • I’m sure your mother will send you “something else” now that Sandy is gone — it may not be obvious at first — sometimes the signs can be subtle.
      I truly believe that those who have passed can reach out to us; send messages (my father did alot even if I couldn’t always decode them — but Dad had a warped sense of humour!). I’m sure that Sandy spoke to Max, and suggested you would need extra affection — Max may have really taken this message to heart.
      Did Sandy have a favourite park, place to walk, etc.? You and Stuart could always spend time there, help out at an animal shelter, donate dog and cat food to an organization in Sandy’s name.
      I find the rituals help; many conversations were held with my father (at the cemetry); I’m sure he heard every one, even if he didn’t always respond!
      My mother’s sister died on Alzheimer’s in October, 2011. Before I left town, on a wet blustery day, I held on to the umbrella, trying to keep the text of the eulogy her special neice read at the funeral from getting wet, and the words running off the pages. Even though I was sure mom was there when her sister left, it seemed a fitting thing to do. I’d like to read it again on a warm spring day, with the sun shining, butterflies dancing on the wind — to make it more of a celebratory ocassion.

  2. Thank you for liking the way I’ve been choising to mark these memorial days. Keeping folks in our hearts, knowing that their spirits are with us, helps with the loss.

    • Thanks, Kate. She wasn’t big on cut flowers so balloons seem appropriate. Sun and cloud today, but enough breeze to send a balloon dancing its way skyward.

    • Hanging in there: I think that mom’s passing was such a release for her, it makes things easier as time goes by. I know — two years seems to have slipped thru my fingers at times; at others, it seems more like ten!

  3. I am so sorry for your loss.
    That was such a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading it. It was very touching. I think it is wonderful to do things to remember those that are gone. I try to keep the memories alive of my loved ones that have passed as well. I think you’ve chosen lovely ways to remember your mother.

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