We went to a dear friend's birthday party today. He passed away this past Spring but his lovely family had a party in his honor. Someone had the brilliant idea to write wishes to him and release them tied to balloons. CJ wanted to hang on to his at first, which I found surprising as he had been releasing it with abandon in the house and I had repeatedly had to climb up to get it. Once he realized we were now letting them go he flung his arms wide and up and away went his balloon.
Kaiya must have let hers go in a flurry for by the time I glanced to where she was she was hopping up and down and pointing to it floating away. Oddly enough when we released them many of them got caught in a giant tree in the front yard. Most eventually worked themselves loose. Some man I didn't know grabbed a hoe and prodded some loose and even went for the ladder for the most persistant ones. Grief is like that I guess.
Much of it pours out at first, in gushes, or in a big wave of color lifting up high. Bits of it stick though. Get trapped on things, hung up, and you have to work at it to get them free.
Later I was sitting and staring at a blank notebook page trying to figure out which story of this great man to put down in black and white while Kaiya was playing with some paper cutouts of tiny stars. She was still processing. We had made a card for him the night before. It had stamps, glitter, puffy animal stickers and she had written his name all on her own on the envelope. The perfect card for him, truly.
Kaiya calls him Santa Dave because Dave was his name and he looks like Santa. Every now and then while she's playing or something she'll just stop and say: "I miss Santa Dave." So today all of a sudden she stops and says: "I'm going to pray." I, like any good Christian, nod emphatically and say OK! She starts: "Dear Dave, I miss you..." as she trails off I suggest that maybe we should pray to Jesus instead. She nods and says, but I'm going to pray for him. I agree. "Dear Jesus. I miss Dave. And... can you send him back here? Because his wife really misses him and loves him."
I patted her head. It was all I could do. Because really. That prayer rocks. I keep praying it too and including other names of those gone too soon. Could you send Trina back? Amy too? While your at it you got a grandma and a grandaddy up there you could kick loose. A few others I could name as well. But.
The balloons don't come back down in this story. They float and keep on going up into the atmosphere. They don't come back down. They are gone. But.
Our God makes all things new. The friends and family who have died already are made new. My sweet Kaiya has a brand new Santa Dave. One day, Jesus will answer her prayer. Only those of us down here must go up. There is no clinging to branches or being stuck under gutters. We must go up to be free.