White Balloon

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There is something inherently sad about watching a balloon fly away.

I remember as a child the simple joy a balloon can bring. Holding onto the string as it bobbed along above me; just as I can remember that horrible feeling of the string slipping through my careless little fingers. How quickly the balloon would sweep out of reach, and I would be left watching it go, drifting away on its solitary adventure. What would it see? Where would it land? Would the airless shell end up desolate and limp lying over some brittle branch however many kilometres away? These were all questions I wondered as it left me behind, enduring an unwavering sense of loss.

Having learnt their lesson more than once, my parents would tie the string around my wrist until we made it safely home. How ferociously I then fought to keep the balloon inside. Shepherding it away from the doors to prevent its escape. Chastising my sister for her carelessness if she left the door ajar or allowed the balloons to venture too close to freedom.

As a mother I soon realised balloons are more trouble than they’re worth. Too much. The stress of keeping hold of them, tying them to wrists and prams, not least dealing with the upset when they ultimately burst is too much extra work for a busy mum. So now when I see people offering free balloons, I give them a very wide bearth. No balloons for us, please. No balloons for us.

Then a couple of weeks ago we were at a park full of happy kids playing and parents picnicking. There must have been a party somewhere for one solitary, pearlescent white balloon drifted overhead toward the clear blue sky above. I stood and watched, fascinated and a little sad. Even though the balloon wasn’t mine, and I couldn’t hear any cries, that drifting balloon filled me with an acute sense of loss. The fact that it was white made it even sadder.

Balloons are transient, temporary; evanescent. In this context the balloon could be a metaphor for any number of things from moments to relationships to life. But when I started this blog, it was simply about a white balloon and how it made me feel as it drifted silently into the sky.

Blonde on!

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