Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving morning.

Last year, we started a tradition on Thanksgiving morning. A balloon release in memory of our loved ones. Nothing too fancy, really.

We sit. We talk. We give thanks. We remember. With intention.

Who were they? What was special about them? What was funny about them? And any other questions they might have. 

We remember Harry's father. Also known as "Granddaddy-in-heaven." He was a great father. Harry said that no matter what anybody ever said, he always knew his father loved him. He didn't like people messing with his car or kids playing near it. That was a funny thing about him. He loved children and would have loved his grandsons. Yes, it makes Daddy sad that he didn't get to play with them. But Harry also says that before his father passed away, he had already taught him all he needed to know about being a man.

Granddaddy-in-heaven made his transition early in the morning on December 20, 1992 -- Harry's twenty-second birthday.

We remember C.J. Short for Cedric Jr. Everywhere he went, people marveled at how smart he was. His daddy has a big Harley Davidson hog and C.J. had a mini-hog just like Uncle Ced. C.J. loved to shake his booty to the theme song to Madagascar 2-- "I like to Move it-Move it." The kids are comforted in knowing that Auntie will get to help take care of him just like she took care of them.

C.J. left us four years ago today on November 23, 2008.  We will always, always remember to never forget his precious life.

We remember Auntie Deanna. Also known as simply "Auntie." It was hard to do a lot of talking. But we just hugged and talked and let ourselves feel thankful for her. She was funny when playing board games with the boys. Very. In fact, she never let any kid win a game just because they're a kid. Nope. Not Auntie. She was proud of all of us--and had this special way of making us all feel proud of ourselves.

Today marks one week since Auntie was called to heaven. Isaiah said he was glad that we started this tradition last year. I agreed and said that love should be intentional and remembering sometimes has to be deliberate. Especially as time passes. Then I explained that all that means is that you have to do stuff on purpose and not just wait for it to happen sometimes.

They got it. Especially Isaiah.

This image simultaneously broke and touched my heart. Oh, that Isaiah. That boy loved his Auntie. Both boys did. But, see, Deanna understood my Isaiah in a way that few do. She knew how to encourage him like no other and had this magical way of bringing out the best in him. She did.

I pray that he holds onto these lessons and carries them into manhood. Just like Harry did with his father.

Auntie's balloon had to be red. "'Cause that's her favorite color," Zachary insisted. And the boys also decided that they each wanted their own "Auntie balloon." I had no problem with that. The others got pink balloons since Dollar Tree was out of white stars. (Isaiah said not to let it happen again since he is sure that C.J. won't be so happy about a pink heart balloon!)

We also had balloons to release for Harry's and my grandparents that passed before they were born. And this year we got a balloon for our friend, Mrs. Reed's son, Mac. Because we love her and since we do, we love and remember him, too.

Up they went. Toward the heavens. Up, up, and away. (One close call with a tree, but fortunately it finally got out of there.)

Yes. Doing it this year was kind of hard. And no. We cannot release the acute pain we all feel this year. But we will love and remember with such intention that we won't release their memory. No, we will not. And my guess is that eventually it will be less and less painful. And maybe not painless. Just less painful.

I hope.

Oh. I was proud today when Isaiah was playing one of his favorite video games called "Scribblenauts" -- and showed me this character he'd created.

"It's Auntie," he said with a smile. "I was just thinking about her so I made her a superhero angel."

And I smiled at him and replied, "It's perfect, son." Because it was.

Even in the midst of all of this, he is learning that it's okay to remember. And what's better is that he's doing it his way -- and on purpose.


The seasons will change. The clocks will tick-tock and the earth will revolve. All while hearts are breaking and trying to mend in those quiet moments nestled inside of other lives going on. This is why we promise to always stop, pause, and surrender to love.

Last year I had no idea how meaningful this balloon release would mean to us just three hundred sixty five days later. No, I didn't. Isn't it funny how sometimes you think you're doing something for someone else, never realizing that it was really for you? Or just as much for you as it was them?

I don't know.

So, yeah. We started out our Thanksgiving this year exactly like we did last year. By releasing balloons into the heavens in remembrance of those who've gone home before us. And this year--more than ever--something about watching those hearts flying high in the sky lifted all of ours.

I felt really thankful for that.

Happy Day-after-Thanksgiving.

Now playing on my mental iPod--this one's for you, C.J.!


  1. Isaiah's eyes in that picture---an old soul indeed. What a sweet kid.

  2. The superhero angel made me smile. Thank you, Isaiah!

    Auntie JoLai

  3. I loved this. What a beautiful tradition.

  4. That was pure Grace that you started this tradition last year--pure Grace to help heal your broken hearts and give the boys a tangible reminder of those who have left us yet remain in us in all of the important ways. From an earlier post, "Provisions had been made."...
    Love, Katie


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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