Lessons learned from Nick

Balloons to Heaven!

Nick loves helium filled balloons.  They are one of the joyful things in life.  For Nick, they indicate a celebration, a party, a time to have fun together.  If he sees one, he asks if he can have one.  We would always tie the string to his arm so that he could enjoy looking at the balloon and not lose it.

After my dad died back in 1992, Nick began letting the balloons go on purpose.  I would get mad at him.  I didn’t think to ask him why he was doing it.  I was frustrated that we were going to a big effort to give him something that he enjoyed and he just would let go of it.

I don’t know how long it took me to ask him and I am sure that the question “what are you doing that for?” didn’t come out in a pleasant soft voice.  However his answer stunned me.

He said, “I send it to heaven, to Grandpa.  He love it.”  His faith astounds me.  He thinks about those he loves who now live in heaven.  He sends them balloons whenever he gets one.

Now we stand with him when he releases the balloons and watch it go up and up until it disappears.  It is a wonderful reminder to me.  Some days the balloons go to Grandpa Doherty and other days it is Grandma Doherty or Grandpa Gremmert.  Last week, he said “The balloon going to all of them.”

After my mom passed away in 2012, we decided to share Nick’s tradition with those who came to her celebration of life.  We had balloons for everyone to send up to her in heaven.  My friend Maureen Hoffmann captured an amazing shot of Nick and some of us just after we released the balloons.  It was a joyful moment in the midst of our grief.

When you receive something joyful, do you think of your loved ones?  Do you send the joyful thoughts up to heaven?  I suggest you get a balloon, find a quiet spot where you can release it up to heaven. Send a prayer of gratitude up with the balloon as you watch it gently swaying in the air, rising upward.  It is an amazing experience.

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