Two years ago, my sweet mother passed away on Easter Sunday. I was deployed to Afghanistan at the time. My sister had the unfortunate job of phoning in the obscenely early morning hours Monday to tell me the devastating news.
This year, I borrowed an idea from a friend, whose stepmother was widowed at a young age with a newborn baby boy. Each year, on her husband’s birthday, she and her son wrote messages on balloons to his father and released them. I thought it was a touching gesture, and a great way to keep him in their lives. I want to do the same for my family, particularly my nieces and nephews, and my own children
if I can ever trick someone into marriage and babies when I have them.
They chose his birthday, we chose Easter Sunday. First, my mother’s birthday is in January and it’s way too cold to want to be outside doing something like this. Second, my mother appreciated death; she spent the bulk of her years as a nurse working in hospice. She would appreciate the celebratory nature of balloons honoring the day she died.
We gathered four dozen balloons and a half dozen permanent markers and made for the cemetery.
As children, we all had colors assigned to us (mine was yellow). My mother’s sister started the color tradition by purchasing Christmas gifts for us each year, identical except for their colors. The color tradition still surfaces in adulthood now and again. Each family received their “color” balloons to write on. We also purchased additional balloons in pink, white, and lavender (Mom loved her some purple, and always sent pink clouds in her letters to her children away from home), in case any balloons popped or got loose. They did.
The messages were all unique; some were funny, some were tear-inducing, but all were sweet, and Mom/Nona/Lady would love them all.
When everyone had written their notes, we counted off and released the balloons up to heaven for Mom to read.
After the balloons were released we watched until they couldn’t be seen anymore. Then we visited with one another, and enjoyed the beautiful spring day and the serene location. A few tears were shed.
The cemetery was bustling with people, although, I’m fairly certain our group was the largest. Easter Sunday is an appropriate day to remember those who have passed on, and a great reminder that death isn’t the end, even if sometimes it feels like it. While some of my siblings initially thought the idea a strange one, nearly everyone said they want to make it a tradition every Easter (a few said they want to do it every major holiday, though I’m mostly sure they were joking).
We love you, Mom… and we look forward to sharing our lives with you every year in this very special way.