Letting My Mother's Birthday Balloon Go


A little while ago, I stood on the patio and wished my mom a happy birthday and let the birthday balloon go. Despite the wind, the balloon seemed to stay in place over the building for a while. It was surreal.

Once the balloon was out of my sight, a few birds flew overhead, back and forth.

I wonder so many times if moments like this really could be — or really are — my mom. Or could they be signs from the universe. Or just part of any other beautiful fall night.

This is what I’ve noticed this past year about these “signs,” whether you believe them to be without a doubt from the ones you love, or question if they’re really from the ones you love, or you always simply wonder and look for them. That that in and of itself shows how grief can make us pay more attention to life…

…and I don’t mean the bullsh*t of life, or the pain, but real life. The wind, the leaves, the birds, the butterflies, the sun, the moon, the water, those little moments that seem to come out of nowhere and make us stop, and sometimes take our breath away.

I could’ve easily walked onto the patio, grumbled about how the mums were knocked over by the storm yesterday, and got mad at myself for not keeping up with the weeds nor planting bulbs for the spring yet.

But tonight, I walked out and simply picked up the mums and put them back where they go, as I held the birthday balloon with one hand. The moon seemed to be out early tonight, and as I wished my mom happy birthday and let the balloon go, I was paying attention to every detail around me and above me — every sound, every wind, every bird, every leaf.

“Is that you? Are you here?” I asked her for probably the hundredth time this year. She was rude and didn’t reply.

Maybe it’s her. Maybe it’s not. God I hope it’s her.

But regardless of whether it’s her or not, today is the day we celebrate her life.

And one thing she’d want me to do in her honor and memory, and especially on her birthday, is to pay so much attention to the beauty of life.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to cursing too much and dreading having to sit at a desk for hours, and I’ll be pissed at traffic and wish I could magically have a lot of money. But in the midst of all of that, I will notice a bird, a voice, a word — things that over a year ago would’ve never caught my attention.

Happy Birthday, Mom…I am so very much your daughter.

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