Monday, April 14, 2008

Lost balloons

In September, Kaiden lost her balloon. We were climbing into the van on a windy West Texas evening. Two helium filled balloons from our fun dinner at Red Robin wafted in the back of the van. I opened one sliding door to load the kids, then opened the other to help me better reach to buckle them in. The wind whipped through the open van, sucking Kaiden's balloon up into sky. Kaiden, not yet buckled in, jumped from her seat and ran across the lawn screaming as she tried to reach the balloon, now 20 feet above her head. "Mommy, please, make it come back."

Filled with rage and grief, Kaiden sobbed in my arms as the balloon whisked around the corner of a house. Mommy, can't you make it come back. No, Kaidi, that is what balloons are meant to do. If we don't hold on to them tightly they will fly away. The balloon is doing what it is supposed to do.

As we drove home, Kaiden still quietly crying, I wished I hadn't opened both doors of the van. I remembered watching the balloon begin to move with the breeze and knowing it was about to be lost - but my thoughts were slower than the wind and I couldn't think fast enough to stop the balloon from escaping.

I didn't really understand Kaiden's grief that day. I knew she was sad, but in my attempt to be a rational parent and end her tantrum, I just couldn't be sad with her. After all, balloons are supposed to float away, right?

Since Lia died, my own grief is causing me to think a lot more about how my children mourn. Did I do the right thing by keeping my response to Kaiden so factual? Or should I have helped her rejoice in her sorrow - by helping her see the joy of the balloon no longer tied down in a van but instead dancing in the wind?

The simple honest open grief of my three year old daughter is so much like my own silent grief. She was so excited to be bringing home a balloon, I was excited to be bringing another life into our home. Just a few minutes from home, her balloon was suddenly taken from her. Just a few days before her birth, my daughter was suddenly taken from me. Just like I regret opening the doors of the van, I constantly question and regret choices I made that may have affected the health of my baby. And just like Kaiden, I cried out watching my dream float away.

If someone had come to me the day Lia died and said - well, this is just how it is. Babies die. If we don't monitor them constantly, something can go wrong and they might die. I would have socked them in the face! Instead, through friends, through God's word, and through the gentle whispers of His Spirit, God was saying I know this is hard to understand, but look at her dancing in the wind. She is free of the pain of this earth. She is where I intend for her to be.

God is so gentle and good with us in our grief. I only hope that I can be as gentle with my daughters in their sorrows as the Lord has been to me.

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