31 Balloons

“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” ― John Green

Today, I filled up 31 balloons and watched as they flew up up your way. Only these weren’t the real kind, like the ones we sent off at your funeral, but the metaphorical kind instead. In my mind they were baby blue, like your eyes, and my mood.

I filled them up with all my love, energy, and stories; 29 years worth of inside jokes that only you would get, and so many things left unsaid. The stories were of the kids, mostly. Stories of your sweet girl and all the little ways she reminds me of you; how she still has your smile, your eyes, and your sense of humor. How not much has changed and yet everything has. There were stories of football and baseball games, of first loves, and all the trouble that cousins can find.

I have to say, that was a lot of stuff to fit into just 31 balloons, so much so, that once I’d gotten to the end it was easy to feel jipped. So, I went back and filled them to the brim until I was afraid they might pop. Thankfully, they didn’t.

Then, once I was finished I counted and recounted again just to make sure… you see, I couldn’t understand how it was possible that I needed 31 balloons this time around (weren’t you just 29?) when I myself am 32. It turns out 16 months isn’t all that big a difference in the grand scheme of things, is it? It’s funny how a single balloon can change so much and still nothing at all. Also, there’s the odd reality that I will grow older but you will not- or more accurately are not- and it has just sunk in, in a new and different way, I guess.

When I came to the final balloon- I’d intended to have a grand story for you, something that would be worthy enough. But…in the end there were still too many stories left to tell, just as many words left unspoken–and my heart was so heavy with the weight of them all that “you should be here” was the best I could do. I’m sure you’ll understand…

Happy Birthday Jeremy James. You are so missed.

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