Saturday, July 18, 2009
A cool, windless summer morning, as the hot air balloon lifted off the ground, I wondered why I didn’t have any fear. I detest heights. I get dizzy and pull my loved ones away from railings and windows. They could fall through the sky. Yet my father, his wife, my son, the pilot and I floated higher into the arms of the quiet winds’ decisions.
Our ride wasn’t all for pleasure. We had a purpose. I cradled a box inside a blue velvet drawstring bag. My sister Gere’ (Jer-ray) had died unexpectedly from a seizure. She had suffered from them most of her life. An MRI revealed calcified lesions from old brain damage caused by seizing, new lesions showed her current struggle.
My sister’s life was one of great tragedy. Failures from many people sent her on one collision course after another—state hospitals, group homes, street life, behavioral health lock ups. But she always managed a smile and a hug like the maltreated doggie who keeps on loving.
She spent her life hindered by forces beyond her control. So as I looked up at the fire from the propane tank keeping the air hot, the colors of the balloon—blue, red, yellow, violet, green and black, I thought of the rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis.
I handed the box to my father, my arms abruptly as light as the balloon. And we watched tiny wild turkeys run around the countryside below while we floated peacefully preparing ourselves for release, for the sense of freedom and letting her go. And in my mind’s sounds Ray and Johnny sang for Gere’: “Where troubles melt like lemon drops/Away above the chimney tops/
That's where you'll find me.”
Somewhere way up high.