I remember when Hunter was just a toddler, and we had just come out of either The Home Depot, or some restaurant that gives you balloons to children as they leave, and he was given a balloon. Probably blue. I remember making it all the way home with child and balloon safely in the car, until the door opened. And then the balloon escaped, floating serenely in the sky, taking its sweet time ascending up to the heavens. As beautiful as that blue balloon looked making its way towards the sky, my sweet little Hunter wasn't as thrilled. But then it came to me, or John, not quite sure exactly who said it, that THAT balloon was making its way to McKenna, his big sister who died just a few short years earlier. So that is what we told him; that we were going to share the balloon with McKenna, that she would catch it, and know we were thinking of her.
Three children arrived after Hunter, and that has been the tradition, for the most part, and especially from Reagan and Hailey, that every balloon they get from The Home Depot or Red Robin, and from many birthdays, is given to their big sister, McKenna. At first, when the children were younger and the balloon accidentally escaped their tiny little hands, it was a matter of tears at the loss of something they just received and hadn't spent much time enjoying yet. It reminds me of the tears I shed after I received McKenna from heaven, only having her for such a short time and then releasing her back to Heaven. But once each child understood that, although they wanted to have the enjoyment of that pink, yellow, or blue balloon, they wanted MORE for McKenna to enjoy it too; to enjoy something they had, that they could share with her.
As I think about the years that have gone by since that first balloon took its flight to be with McKenna, I think of the many others that have joined that single balloon, to make a vibrant and beautiful bouquet. A bouquet of balloons, that really only represent our minds being turned towards her, of wondering what she must be doing while temporarily away from the rest of her family. Of her hopefully being privy, at times, to our thoughts of how much we miss her, how much we love her.
I am so grateful to have sweet, compassionate children who think of their big sister; someone they've never met, but know only from pictures and mom and dad speaking of her short but profoundly meaningful time on earth. And I look forward to the day when we all will see her again, and I won't be surprised if she greets us with a bouquet of balloons in tow.