I don’t remember the last word you spoke. I had no idea you had no more words to say, so I did not think it important to make a note.
I wish I could remember when you last spoke. I had no idea your speech was reaching an end and I did not notice it slip away. Your words carried off into the sky on the breeze of busyness. For a while I did not realise they had gone.
If I’d known I would have looked up sooner at the sky, the trees. I wonder if their branches would have caught your words, and held on to them….at least for a while. Giving me a chance, perhaps, to climb up and take them back for you. One by one – no phrases. In reality, only a few words anyway, now tangled high up at the top of the tree. Out of reach.
Like a child’s once preciously held balloon and now abandoned to the elements, your words disappeared. Snatched out of your hand whilst no one was looking. Taken from your lips. But unlike that child, you did not cry or alert me to your loss. How could you know what to say when what was missing was needed to say it? You let it go without a fuss.
Occasionally someone notices the balloon in the tree. In winter, no more than a dash of colour against prison grey boughs. In summer, glimpsed only from within, under the canopy. Protected by the greenest of leaves, but still there.
Oh no, they proclaim, someone has lost their balloon!
Perhaps they know the sinking feeling of watching their own child’s balloon float away. Just…. out…..of…..reach……. Momentarily, or perhaps for longer, they feel that pain.
I still notice the balloon.
I see that tree every day and I see the balloon. Your balloon.
For a long time, the lost balloon has made me sad. I have tormented myself with questions as to what more I or anyone could have done to help you hold onto it. Treasured, painful videos from back then remind me of the time you had with your balloon.
Whatever the reason, the balloon took flight and has not returned. And I can no longer see it in the tree.
You don’t even look for it. It does not matter to you. You spend no time worrying about the things you do not possess, even if they were once yours.
Instead, you notice what and who really matters in your life. With your entire being you speak eloquently and joyfully, leaving me in no doubt of what is important to you. No words required. You hear a song and your body sings it back to me. You understand melody with the best of musicians. You see someone or something you love and your hands give a speech of their own.
You also notice the tree, but simply because it is magnificent! Like you. And like those around you who never had a balloon in the first place. Some of them your classmates or friends you have made along this different path. They too are magnificent, and like you, they speak in ways too lofty for most people to hear. Maybe that’s where the balloon has gone. Higher up.
You look for what remains, for what is. Not for what has gone, though the balloon was nice whilst you had it.
And if you never speak another word in your life, love remains. Or if one day you find your voice again and never stop talking, love remains.
The balloon was desirable; so many things in life are, and I missed it when it let you go.
Yet love is far and away much easier for us both to hold onto and is tied in such a way that cannot easily come undone.