Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sending a Message

I would guess it happens pretty often that after someone on goes on ahead, people who cared about him or her look back over old emails, letters, cards, and notes sent to them in the past by that person.

Dad, as a student at Auburn long ago, writing a paper in his dorm room

For me, looking back at things my dad wrote helps me to remember and to feel connected to him.  In doing so in the weeks after his death, my mom, my sisters, and I noticed a trend that we hadn’t noticed before: whether his message was written by hand or typed, he very often finished up the note by signing his name or writing his initials (sometimes even in lower case) and then adding two slash marks underneath, as if he were attempting to underscore the fact that he had ended that message or thought.  As with many unique practices or quirks of a loved one, this tendency seemed endearing to us, something that was a little peculiar but that was a trademark of sorts of his.  It reminded us of how lots of other people sign off with an “XOXO” to signify kisses and hugs or as a symbol of love, and so my family started using Dad’s special mark as an expression of love at the end of things we write to each other.  

On the day that marked one year since my dad’s passing, my mom, my siblings, and I decided to do a balloon release to honor him that day.  That afternoon, I bought four blue balloons (blue was my dad’s favorite color), one for each of my daughter, my husband, and me, and at 5:05 p.m. (five being his favorite number), as the sun was beginning to lower on the horizon, we stood in our driveway and released them.  We didn’t speak any words of wisdom or say anything in tribute; the moment seemed peaceful as it was, and I guess we wanted to keep it that way. Each of us lifted our eyes to the sky and let go of our balloon, one at a time.  

After a few second of watching the balloons drift upward in a cluster, my daughter decided to take a few photos.  As the balloons faded out of our sight, we looked back on the camera screen at the pictures she had taken, and below is what we saw in the progression of shots … notice the pattern of the balloons in #5 – a backward slash mark to us but a forwards one from above …

Look at the balloons - they are just over the top right corner of the house.

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