For the last three years, on a beautiful May day, we have released four pink balloons into the sky on the day Darcy was born.
I called them our "Love letters to Heaven."
But then... Gavin died this past April. May came - and the day was as beautiful as ever. We celebrated our sweet daughter, but there were no more balloons to Heaven.
It's so important to me to teach Brian that Heaven isn't this place in the sky. I want him to feel Heaven all around him. I want him to know that Gavin is accessible to him any time - and he doesn't need to be in an airplane to be the closest to him... or climb the highest tree... or send a love letter tied to a balloon string. I feel like we'd be sending him a confusing message if we sent balloons to Gavin into the sky.
As I thought about it more, I also thought... well, duh, Kate... what goes up, must come down. I wouldn't toss a deflated balloon onto the street or down on the ground in a park in front of Brian (or alone, for that matter.) What are we teaching him if we send up balloons? We're either lying to him by letting him think they will continue to climb and climb until they reach Heaven... or we're showing him that it's okay wherever they come down because, well, we can't see them anymore so it doesn't count.
I used to love the balloon idea. And I am absolutely not judging those who still do. At all. One bit. But because of how we're handling Gavin's death around Brian - and because of how we explain Heaven to him - it just doesn't make sense to us anymore.
I don't think Brian will even miss the balloon release - it hasn't even occurred to him. But... almost as if he could read our mind... he came out with this gem tonight at bedtime...
"Mama? I'm so excited for Gavin's birthday weekend."
"Me too, buddy. We're going to do lots of things that Gavin would have loved. Swimming, sleeping in a hotel, rides at the amusement park..."
"And don't worry, Mama. Pop and Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop and Daddy's Mommy and Daddy - they will all give Gavin a party in Heaven. They have everything there - toys and cake and balloons and lots of other stuff. But Gavin doesn't really eat cake, so Pop can have his cake."
"Pop would love his cake, Brian."
"And we can think about them here because we love them."
"Yes, we do. And they are all around us taking care of us and each other."
"I miss Gavin."
"Me too, buddy. Every day."