In August 2006 my good friend celebrated her birthday. Actually, she celebrates her birthday in August every year, but that's beside the point. A few of us decided to meet at the local Mexican restaurant to celebrate. We brought our kids, of course, because that's how we knew each other, and the kids were friends, too. There's nothing better than good friends and good food. To make things more festive, someone brought along balloons of various colors. After eating and cutting up, it was time to get the kids back home. The birthday girl decided to share her balloons with the kids. I asked Evan what color balloon he would like. I knew for certain he would choose the red one, because that was his favorite color. But he said, "The green one!" We took the balloon, said our goodbyes, and headed home. I told Evan to hold on tight to the balloon, or it might float away. It bounced on the ceiling of the car all the way home. When we got out, Evan let go of the string. The balloon floated silently away. "Balloon gone!" he said. And we watched it rise higher and higher into the air. He wasn't distressed. But maybe a little disappointed.
About a month later I took Evan to get a big boy haircut in preparation for his first day of school. The stylist always cut it short and he looked quite dapper. Evan didn't cry or fuss in the salon chair. He didn't cringe when the scissors or razor came his way. Instead, he named the implements the stylist was using, or he would watch the movie. He often got a really serious expression on his face like he had to use all his powers of concentration to stay focused on the cartoon. Afterwards, as a treat, we went next door to Party City for a balloon. I thought I would have to buy one, but was pleasantly surprised that they gave out freebies for kids. We got in line and waited. When it was our turn, I asked, "What color, Evan?" He excitedly said, "Green!" I was surprised. I knew toddlers had better memories than babies, but I thought he had long forgotten about the green balloon that got away. This time, however, the balloon made it all the way home. Evan held on tight to the string, and didn't let it go until we were inside.
We still have that balloon.
A month from today we will mark the second anniversary of Evan's death by releasing balloons. We invite you to get a balloon on November 24th to remember Evan, too.