I believe in the magical powers of a balloon. I believe that one round, crinkly piece of Mylar that becomes inflated by helium and decorated by bright, shiny letters has the power to brighten someone’s day. One tiny message that says, “Get Well Soon” and hangs high on a colorful ribbon, I believe, can truly cure a person’s heart.
Before two years ago, I associated balloons as something I would find at a birthday party; I don’t think I ever attended a single birthday party without the attendance of balloons. And at each different party, they always had their separate meanings.
At one party, they simply hung from the ceiling as a decoration. At another party, they served as a unique place card to warn all guests away from the birthday person’s chair. Sometimes the birthday guests used them as weapons to hit each other with. And I’m sure you’ve heard of people sucking the helium from the balloon; perhaps that rambunctious guest would imitate the voice of one of the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz in front of all your guests? Yea, my uncle did that at my sixteenth birthday party. But, whatever the purpose of the balloon, it always appeared at the party.
And even on those hot summer days, the balloon, filled with water and thrown in a surprise attack against the kids from down the street served a purpose. Or in science class when the teacher talked about static electricity, the balloon was at hand prepared to be rubbed against the students’ hair to demonstrate its effects.
However, I believe that I’ve found the most important and powerful meaning of a balloon. Two years ago, I watched the expression on my Grandmother’s face change as tears filled her eyes and she began to smile. I had walked into her hospital room carrying a single balloon that willed her to “Get Well Soon.” That shiny, silver balloon with purple writing on it and inflated with helium truly healed my Grandmother. She had just gone through surgery to remove the cancer from her colon and in the instant I gave her that balloon she became a fighter. For eight months while she went through chemotherapy, that same balloon hung in her living room urging her to fight. And every time I visited her she would point out to me that she still had the balloon although slightly more deflated every time.
To this day, my Grandmother still has that same balloon. It’s not floating up by the ceiling anymore, but its meaning is still present in my Grandmother’s house. It’s two years later; my grandmother is cancer free. And I truly believe that the magic and the message of that balloon made my Grandmother get well soon.