When Ella was around two years old, she had gotten one of those Mylar balloons in the shape of a star. She loved that balloon. But I had no idea how much she loved it until it was gone. And until two years had passed…
A few days ago she was crying in her room. I walked up the stairs and opened her door. Erica was kneeling beside her and holding her close while tears were welling up and streaming down her little girl cheeks. What could have caused this outburst? Erica looked up at me and half mouthed and half spoke the words, “Remember when the star balloon floated away? That was two years ago?!”
It’s true. This balloon, like the little lamb that Mary loved, was dear to Ella’s heart. But instead of never leaving her side, one day when we took the balloon outside, it’s helium filled star shaped body sent it heavenward and left a little girl paralyzed in sadness, watching as her favorite thing in this whole wide world slowly disappeared into the great unknown. Then, two years later she was reminded of it out of the blue and burst into tears.
So where did the picture come from?
A few days after the scene in her bedroom, we all went together to the Johnny Appleseed Festival at a nearby farm/restaurant. It caught us off guard, but one of the tables there, a pediatric dentist, was handing out balloons and offered one to Ella. She couldn’t say no, and so neither could we. Around her wrist it went, and Pax got one, too, but protested until we opted to tie it to the wagon.
Not ten seconds later she sees someone else’ balloon do this…
For about a good hour we kept seeing balloon after balloon float away, and each time the scab on that painful childhood memory was picked away…Fresh tears flowed, her tiny heart just so concerned for each balloon. I tried to explain that maybe it will come down somewhere else, in another little girl’s backyard and she would love it and take care of it. We told her how Jesus knew where each balloon went and I was even willing to pray with her about it. But no matter our explanations, her heart still ached to see each flying balloon back with its owner.
To make matters worse, while we ate lunch, there was a mom and her two kids having the same fight that we fought with Pax. They didn’t want this thing tied around their wrists, but unlike us, they didn’t have a wagon as an alternative anchor. So they made a big deal about untying the balloon and waving and saying goodbye as they watched it fly up into the sky. Perhaps you can’t imagine just how much this tore Ella up inside. It was serious crying, not temper tantrum crying. It was deep and fully felt. She clung to her balloon, even though it was still attached to her wrist, and several times she tried to hold the balloon that was tied to the wagon even as I was pulling it, for fear it too would leave.
It didn’t ruin our family fun day, I try to take these things in stride as I can’t understand her psyche when it comes to this, but Erica and I both agreed on one thing. Next year, no balloon.