The Mylar Balloon

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Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, as I was crawling through bottle-neck traffic on the Mosquito Creek, wallowing in self-pity and mentally grousing about life and all its annoyances, something extraordinary caught my attention. It seemed simple enough, a shiny, new mylar balloon with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” written on it.

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But here’s why this little balloon was so significant.

On the roadside, there is this fenced-in memorial to a young boy who perished in a vehicular accident on the Creek a year or two ago. It features a mounted sign with his name and a loving memorandum imprinted below a large, smiling picture of Spongebob. Everything is enclosed by a white-picket fence, and vibrant flowers decorate the meticulously-maintained grassbed. The balloon stood inside that little picket fence.

I remember the story vividly. A drunk truck driver slammed into a bus carrying primary school children from Rousillac, South Trinidad. Bright, young lives, extinguished because of a moment of hapless, reckless abandon.

That balloon stood out poignantly, and tears instantly sprung to my eyes as I was penetrated by the pain that those parents still endure. All my own cares seemed to disappear as the reality rubbed them rawly away, and I felt vacantly selfish. Ashamed by my own feelings of self-pity, the reality smack registered. Life is much too short to find myself mucking around in negativity.

With tears streaming down my face, I remembered the two, small, smiling faces waiting for my arrival at home. I almost lost one, and the panic, the helplessness, the feeling of doomed hopelessness that I felt, remains with me till this day. I thank God for His mercies and for the priviledge to have loved ones who remain here on earth with me.

To those parents who still religiously trek to the site where their little one perished, my heart goes out to you. I pray for God’s hand to steady you as you endure the type of loss that could never be replaced. I hope that you find solace in the ultimate promise of reunion, and hold firm to the concept that “This world is not conclusion; A sequel stands beyond, Invisible, as music, But positive, as sound.” (Emily Dickinson)

And to the rest of us, let us live our lives with savour. Take nothing for granted because everything is granted for only a short time.

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