Mama, I’m coming home

So my grandma passed away a month ago. Today, we attended a memorial event at the cemetery that included a balloon release. I’d never been to a memorial balloon release. In case you haven’t either, this is how it’s supposed to go:

  1. Distribute one balloon per each loved one being memorialized.
  2. The family of the loved one writes a heartfelt message on the balloon.
  3. The crowd stands silently as each name is read and they release their balloon when the name of their loved one is read.

A balloon release is always a risky place to take children because, to a child, losing a balloon can be a traumatizing event, often resulting in tears and devastation. A memorial balloon release has all of that with the added expectation that the child stand quietly and respectfully.

There were a number of issues at the memorial balloon release. Since our group was only memorializing one loved one, we only got one balloon to split between three children. I managed to find an empty balloon string on the ground, which satisfied The Girl, but I still needed an additional balloon. I had two options:

  1. Kill a member of our group so we could get an additional balloon, or
  2. Dishonestly obtain a second balloon for our group.

I went with the less radical option – lying at a memorial service. Now that everyone had balloons (or balloon strings) in hand, we were back on track, and the boys wrote their notes on their balloons.

Boy One wrote a sweet note about how much we miss Nana:

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Boy Two, on the other hand:

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Yes, you read that correctly. “I love mom.” Other attendees looked on with pity at this poor, sweet boy who had apparently lost his mother. I felt like I should correct them, but who am I to say anything? I just lied five minutes ago to get the stupid balloon for him. Also, it doesn’t actually say his mother is deceased and it’s not really his fault if  others read between the lines. And finally, maybe he knew something I didn’t? The day isn’t over yet.

In the end, his fraudulent balloon message ended up being a blessing and here is why:

As the event wore on, the boys became more and more restless. As boys typically do, they started a game of hitting each other in the head with their balloons, which I was powerless to stop without reverting to Option 1 above. This resulted in Boy Two’s special balloon memorializing his mother coming undone and being released. You will recall that he had firmly decided that he would not be releasing his balloon so this was an issue. Luckily, a kindhearted stranger with a soft spot for orphans offered her balloon to him, but her balloon was red, not white. This was another issue. He proceeded to cry. Red-faced, gigantic tears crying.  I was mortified. This grieving woman gave up her balloon memorializing her loved one (who most likely is legitimately dead) and he’s crying like a spoiled brat because it is the wrong color. I managed to look up through my embarrassment and when I did, I found misty-eyed, sympathetic faces looking back. Then I saw what they were seeing: an innocent boy who had already endured the loss of his loving mother (probably untimely cancer or maybe a tragic car accident). Now he has lost the only thing he had to memorialize her. His whole life is just loss and grief. How much pain can one little boy endure?

Shamefully, I just went with it, although I did stop short of referring to myself as “Auntie” while comforting him and reminding him of what a wonderful person his mother was.

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