On my way to her party, I stopped at a flower shop and bought one of those shiny mylar balloons for her. As I handed it to her, I explained, "This is for you of course, but it will also be useful to mark your house, when guests are looking for it. We can put it in front somewhere." She said she'd tie it to the porch railing, and went out front.
I was on the side of the house in the driveway, messing with the drinks, when I heard her cry, "Oh no! NO!!"
I turned to the front of the house in time to see the balloon go bobbing by on its own. A moment later she appeared, chasing the ribbon (which was already a few feet above her head). It floated up further and got stuck in a tree probably 5 stories above the ground.
I was laughing so hard I could barely speak. When I did, I gasped, "Now how are people going to find your house with the balloon way up there?? I'm not buying you another balloon; they're on their own."
We worried the rest of the afternoon that some of her missing guests were up in the trees with the balloon somewhere, wondering where the patio was.
I have a personal balloon tradition. I began it the new year's eve after S died. The tradition involves writing a note to him, attaching it a helium balloon, and setting it free. I love to watch it disappear into the sky, carrying my message far away, lifting it high, to hopefully find him somewhere.
Balloons in general have become something of a message to him, a reminder of him, even when I don't actually write a note. Sometimes I'll just pen something onto the balloon itself, sometimes I'll just set it free at watch it float away. I like it.
If you keep a balloon captive, it wilts and dies in your livingroom. If you set it free, it soars into the heavens, going who-knows-where.
This morning I set free the two balloons which I rescued from last night's event. I didn't write a note this time. I just said, "happy birthday, I still love and miss you," and I let them go. They were tied together, and they pulled one another back and forth as they both lifted past the treetops. The balloons turned into circles which turned into dots, and they hid behind some leaves before they had completely shrank out of view.
I wondered briefly if perhaps on sunday S had gotten confused and thought that sis's balloon was meant for him, so he had taken it when she was distracted. The thought made me smile and chuckle quietly as I climbed into my car to go to work.