by Pat Giavedoni
I died about three years ago after battling breast cancer for about five years. After I was admitted
to the hospital, I slept all night for the first time in about four years. I remember saying that to the nurse who came to
help me into the bathroom in the morning.
The next thing I knew I heard someone say, “Heidi wake up.” I did
and my dad was sitting next to me. When I looked at him I said, “What are you doing here? You died when I was only twelve.
Am I dead?”
My dad just looked at me and said, “Look down.” As I looked down, I saw my husband and children
around me. They were crying and the girls were asking me to wake up.
I said, “Dad, I have to go back. I have to raise
them and be with Ange.”
He said, “You can’t go back. You must stay here now.”
For a long time,
I just sat there saying nothing. Dad just sat quietly and finally he said, “I’ll be back in a little while.”
kept looking down and seeing the people I loved around me. I heard the doctor and nurses saying, “There is no hope.”
And then, “She is gone.” I watched as Ange and the girls said their goodbyes. I followed everyone as they went
through the process of knowing I was no longer with them. I watched my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, wash my body and bathe
me with her tears. I continued to sit where my dad had left me, not knowing exactly what to do.
After awhile, he came back
and he was carrying a lot of balloons. I started to laugh. I have always loved balloons and I guess he remembered that. He
handed me one and said, “You may return with this balloon to your loved ones. Go on now. They won’t be able to
see you, but you will be able to hear them talk and feel their love.
Hurriedly I grabbed onto the string of the balloon
and went down. I found myself in my daughters’ bedroom. They were asleep, snuggled close to my sister-in-law. I walked
around the bed and tried to get close enough to kiss the girls bur the balloon seemed to hold me at a certain distance from
them. I felt the balloon pulling me and drifted over to my bedroom to look in on Ange. The bed was empty so I knew he was
downstairs sitting in his chair and drinking coffee.
The balloon and I drifted down the steps to the living room. He was
sitting there staring at a picture of all of us. I could feel his sadness but had no way to help him. I came as close to him
as the balloon would let me and blew a kiss toward him. He looked around as though he knew I was there.
Finally the balloon
began pulling me upward and before I knew it, I was back with my dad who was still holding the other balloons. He handed me
the cluster of balloons and said, “Throughout the lives of the people you love, you may use one of these balloons and
return to them. They will never know you are there, but you will be able to share the important times in their lives.”
year, I used one of the balloons and drifted down to the cancer relay for life. As I was going down, a number of balloons
were coming up, and I realized I was in the middle of the balloon release. My balloon drifted down and I saw my girls, Hannah
and Heather and their cousin, Chelsea, watching the balloons rising. I drifted as close to them as I could. I heard my mother-in-law
say, “Heather, grab that balloon.” Did she realize I had come to see my girls?
As Heather grabbed the balloon
string, I felt such a surge of love going through me. She held on to my string for a long time and then the three girls took
turns carrying me around the park. While they walked and held my string, my heart was filled with peacefulness. What fun it
was to watch them and see the smiles on their faces. How could this be possible? Eventually the balloon began to pull me away
from the girls. Oh, how I wanted to stay there but I knew I couldn’t. Heather was crying because she thought Hannah
had made the balloon go away, but I knew it was time to leave. My heart was filled with joy as I drifted back up to where
my dad was.
He said, “Throughout your life, I came down to watch you and Jenny.” I usually came at the end
of a balloon string but every now and then I came down when you were blowing bubbles and watched the joy on your faces when
you were doing that. One of you would say, “I think there is a face in this bubble,” and the other would say,
“That’s only the colors. There is no face there.” This was as close to you and Jenny as I could get, and
it will be the same for you but you will find peace and joy in doing it.
We sat together quietly and watched the luminaries
being lit and listened as the list of people who have died from cancer, like me, was read. We saw all the people tear down
the tents, clean up the park and leave. We watched Ange and the girls get in the car to go home. I drifted to our home and
watched them getting ready for bed. I stay till the girls went to sleep. Finally my balloon string pulled me back to my heavenly
I am careful how I use my balloons. My dad said you only have so many balloons so don’t use them up all at
once even though the urge to keep going back is so strong. I want to have them for all the important firsts in my girls’
lives, but when I feel they are having a bad day, I go down to be near them. It helps them to forget for a little while that
they no longer have a mom to turn to. It helps me too. For awhile I can feel their little hands on my string and smell the
scent of their bodies. I can slide along their beautiful hair and listen to their joyful laughter. Sometimes I go down when
they are blowing bubbles and I am that face they see in the bubbles. When I am in the bubble, I can feel their sweet breath
on me. If I float around for awhile, I can hear Ange talking to them and trying to solve all the problems they encounter during
their day. I can see him learning how to be a mother and a father.
I cannot describe how grateful I am for the gift of
balloons God and my dad gave me. It has brought peacefulness to my soul. My dad and I sit together now, and he goes down every
now and then to my mom and my sister, Jenny. I would like to go with him, but I save my balloons for my girls and Ange.
remember how happy balloons and bubbles made me throughout my life. Now I know why.
Reprinted with permission from
Grief Digest, Centering Corp.