As we released these balloons into the atmosphere and watched them float up..up..up..there was a strange sense of triumph and awe for me in that moment. Not quite what I was expecting, but non the less it was there. It was a rather dismal grey sky, with the promise of blue hiding behind the cloud cover. It was a kind of releasing of a spirit into the sky..the great beyond. It felt honorable..it felt right. After all..she loved these rubberized, helium filled bright promising spheres attached to a string. After all..who doesn’t love a balloon?
“Wait for it!” This phrase makes me smile as I think of my dear friend Luba from Estonia. I had only known her a short while, but this infectious phrase followed by her laughter, and her endearing accent makes me giggle. Also when she would see folk that she thought might originate from her “home country,” would exclaim…”these are my people.” She has a terrific sense of humor, and brought her unique determination, friendship, and sense of purpose to our “wheelchair outreach” for Albania last September 2014. Also I cannot forget when she traded “trident gum”, and received a bunch of fresh onions from a local farmer. She grew alarmed when our potato supply for dinner ran low, and was on a whole new mission for us to “get potatoes.” “Jill we need potatoes!” She would say… Oh Luba you just crack me up….and find potatoes you did.
I was was reminiscing about this trip a few weeks back, and marveling at all that had transpired in this last year of life…my life..that is. I remember when this idea of going to Albania was presented to me by my dear friend Cindy months before this adventure. She said there was a vision to bring refurbished, reused, repurposed wheelchairs to the disabled, and hurting people near Korce, in Albania. There was a great need to get these seats for life to those who could not come to us. I was intrigued. Would it ever be possible for me to travel so far, perhaps bringing my life experience involving a little girl who sat in a wheelchair, to these beloved people? What could I do? I felt my heart say..”Do something.” The stirring of the opportunity to bring hope and a new sense of comfort to those having less than myself stirred me onward. Many diverging thoughts filled my mind during this time. Did it even make sense for me to travel so far from my family, to meet other families with needs for special seating? It intrigued me, and challenged me. I felt spurred forward into action. Looking at my daughters’ wheelchair, and hoping that the right person would find the perfect fit for it a world away filled me with hope and wonder. The inscription etched with colorful thread on the back of her chair gave me a sense of purpose, and thrust me forward into the great unknown…”Let your light shine…🌻🌺🌷.. was there, and was a visible reminder every time I transferred my daughter into her seating system. It taunted me,and it challenged me to do that for her, with her. This was part of what I was created to do I believe. She let her light shine, and it radiated into my life, and made be want to take steps boldly forward..probably into areas that I would not have travelled had she not been my girl. When we,(our mission team,) delivered this chair to a 21 year old young woman it was a day I shall not ever forget. My heart overflowed with so much emotion for this family. This girls’ Mum, Grandma, and sweet sister especially. I looked deeply into the Mothers’ eyes and felt a kindred, heartbroken expression that I knew so well. We joined hands, and we hugged, and we wept together. I couldn’t understand one word that she said, and she couldn’t understand me, but with the help of our interpreter we acknowledged our brokenness…our popped balloon of hope. We were the same. We had hopes and dreams for our daughters, but then had to witness their helplessness, their utter and complete dependence on us for their every need, and it made “our hearts rain.” Tears for our shattered dreams, and for the future plans we had for them that would never be realized caused us to weep together. This was a Mother connection so real and pure I shall never forget it. In that moment, so precious, so personal..I knew that we were sharing our light together. This will always be one of the favorite moments of my life. It made me feel as if all of this..this stuff, mental anguish, and heartache had some kind of a purpose, and apparently I desperately needed to know this, even though I could not have put it into words had I not been allowed to put it into action first. I wonder to myself how many opportunities had I missed out on in the past because I was unwilling to just take the next step? I had not wanted to be made uncomfortable, or felt maybe ” out of my element.” It was just so soul satisfying to be there with that dear family, and to have been part of the difference for them….We live a world away, and I may never have the opportunity to see them or visit with them again this side of heaven. However I am filled with great anticipation that one day our two girls will meet…they will introduce each other, or maybe they will know, as we two Mothers did, that we already were aquatinted. Will they talk about their shared earthly seats, and will they then compare their perfect heavenly forms? This thought fills me with great wonder and excitement. I have hope…and this good..this is required. I cannot deny that I feel as if the air has left my balloon of hope somewhat deflated. I suppose this is to be expected. Losing a precious loved one fills me with such loneliness for her. Her light has left this world, and even though I see reminders of her everywhere..I miss that which is her. She had a light, a presence, a spunk that cannot be denied. I miss her very very much.
Driving into Boulder the other day, I looked up, and my eye caught the remarkable sight of several hot air balloons filling the morning sky. What a magnificent sight. They were up very high, and I couldn’t hear the whir of the heat filled helium causing them to rise. I knew it was there, that unique sound, or those balloons quickly would deflate, and be brought back down to earth. I often had wondered if Bianca would have enjoyed going up in a hot air balloon excursion in the air. Maybe..maybe not.. I could never decide. This would have been more than slightly problematic I decided if she and I were lifted up way high, then we both both freaked out, because I am not terribly find of heights. Maybe a good idea, but I often needed to have some sort of a quick escape plan worked out before hand, since leaping from a hot air balloon may not be advisable. A missed opportunity for an adventure was ever in my mind, but even the thought if it now somehow comforts me. We did stuff..we went places. I am so glad for this knowledge. I feel satisfied to know that despite her obvious limitations, she enjoyed life. This feels satisfying to me, even though I know with assurance that I will yearn to see her every day for the rest of my life..because you do not forget your child..no matter how much time passes, of this I feel sure.
However, “hope springs eternal.” I’m not sure where this phrase comes from, only that it fills me with a warm and fuzzy memory when I voiced it to my friend Laura. I still smile when I think how she erupted into laughter when I said this…funny memory, and memories are good. I am gratified to know that these fleeting things, and experiences that I have been so blessed to encounter are the great pearls of this life. The joys and the headaches, the laughter, and the crying. These are the wonders of life that we crave.