My great niece, Harper, died four years ago today. This is a post from several days after her funeral.
I was staring out the window this morning. Sitting next to Ronnie and Jenny Chang, I pondered what to say to my Chinese brothers and sisters as I would lead the communion service in a few minutes. Seemingly out of nowhere, a pink balloon landed right in front of the window in the little courtyard...and stayed there. It remained in the grass all during the Lord's Supper and became the focus of my short lesson. You see, three days ago in Edmond, Oklahoma, my great niece, Harper, was laid to rest after her brief ten month stay on earth was completed. At the conclusion of the graveside service, dozens of pink balloons filled with helium were released into the sky and quickly disappeared from view. They were in two bundles but, in the jet stream, surely separated and came to earth in widespread locales. I looked it up. From Edmond to Houston is four hundred twenty-five miles, easily within a three day range of balloons flying at high altitude. Probably the balloon this morning was from a yard sale or a birthday party....but who knows? With that inspiration, I gave a little talk about how Harper's memorial was more celebration than grieving, punctuated with as much laughter as tears. As we participated in the bread and the cup, I stole glances at the little sphere of latex and smiled. We need reminders- that's what Jesus left us in this recreation of his Last Supper with his dozen disciples. Abraham Lincoln died one hundred forty-two years ago today. He did much good and perhaps kept the nation from disintegrating but there was no celebration in his honor today, just a footnote of history on a Sunday morning news show. Harper will never become a footnote to those who watched her fight for life or witnessed her parents' dignity as they surrendered their precious child to her everlasting reward in the arms of the Savior. Lincoln left behind a brilliant treatise on death, the oft quoted Gettysburg Address. Harper left behind a legacy not as famous but every bit as eloquent. A pink balloon can speak volumes.
Applicable quote of the day:
"I've told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. To me, death is a graduation."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*reprinted from 4-15-07*