These two enormous balloons have been bouncing around our apartment since St. Patrick's Day, a gift from our local pub to two very grateful young ladies. Surely they will soon lose steam, fall to the ground and die a natural death, but that was not to happen; these two old clovers remained full of life, joyfully bouncing from one room to the next, showing no signs of age. Tired of swatting them out of his way, rescuing them from the certain doom offered by the ceiling fans, and of untying them from the legs of both Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, Jack decided to off the shamrocks.
Some time late last night he struck the fatal blow, attacking each with a quick, and hopefully painless, snip. They did not struggle, releasing their final poof of air in the kitchen, where he left the remains to be discovered early this morning.
Mary was the first to stumble upon the departed shamrock, "MOMMY!". From down the hall the wail was sharp, and full of pain, had she walked, yet again, into the corner of the kitchen island? And then I found her, my little girl, buried in a pile of former delight, clinging to the surviving shreds of shiny green Mylar, sobbing. Immediately I knew, The Red Balloon.
Crying as if she had lost her dear President, she held on tightly, unable to utter much more than "my balloooon, my balloooon". I understood. Even today, as a reasonably mature grown up, I cringe when the girls pull The Red Balloon off the shelf, knowing that I'll whimper just a bit when the beloved balloon falls victim to the bullies in Pascal's neighborhood. Losing your most loyal friend, the one who stays by your side and protects you, the one who engages you with magic, is devastating.
Kate sauntered in, curious as to what was creating the great ruckus; she surveyed the destruction, shrugged her shoulders and said, "oh, the balloons" and went back to her book. Kate and Jack, so much alike in every way, while Mary and I while away the hours mourning the loss of a balloon. Life may be easier for them, removed from the messy entanglements of true balloon love, but to know great joy you must also feel deep pain. Mary and I have loved, we have known that joy, thankfully.
Tonight Kate and Jack will be reading The Red Balloon. Best of luck to you both.