I began my Tuesday in the usual manner, picking up a client, (who is more like a friend) and then heading out together to run errands and maybe dig up some fun. It was a blue-domed day with wispy white clouds …a perfect jigsaw puzzle sky.
We chatted as we headed to our first appointment, or I should say that I chatted while she remained silent and somewhat somber looking. Being the consummate cheerleader I asked “What’s shaking lady?” to which she replied, “Momma died two years ago today.” I watched as her lower lip quivered, cuing the tears. “I’m sorry.” I said, handing her a napkin from the glove box, and then turning down the radio.
I remember her mother, a ferociously private woman, devoted to the care of her developmentally disabled daughter, and her duties as a nurse. I used to enjoy the challenge of engaging her in conversation, always hungry for the reward of watching her face light up as she spoke about the things that she loved: her God, her family, and her work. You never would have guessed that she was engaged in the battle of her life against breast cancer. I have no memory of her ever mentioning it or complaining about feeling ill. She was an incredibly brave woman.
“We have to do something to honor her memory.” I said, hoping for some inspiration, a Band-Aid to put on my friend’s wounded heart. “We can do balloons.” She suggested, with a hint of a smile. So balloons it was. We drove to the Dollar Store and picked up two beautiful heart shaped balloons; she insisted I get one for my mom too. We then drove to the beach, where the sky is wide open and the dependable gulf breeze could carry our hearts high up to heaven.
Standing on the pier in silence, she held onto the balloons which were now dancing in the wind, straining against their leashes like two eager pups ready for a romp in the park.
Speaking softly, as though not wanting to disturb the other occupants of heaven, she began, “Hi mom, I really miss you. I know that you’re in heaven so I’m sending you a balloon so you’ll remember how much I love you. God, I love you too; please take care of my Momma.” Her face softened; she had made contact. I then took my turn, now made easy by my friend’s willingness to go first.
Unwinding the strings from her hand she released the balloons. Our two hearts soared up higher and higher, as though answering a call to go home. Squinting into the sky we waited, smiling…until they magically disappeared from our view forever.