I’m hurtling towards the earth when panic starts to set in. I go to pull the ripcord of the chute.
I look behind me, there is no parachute. There’s nothing I can do. I think to myself, “How am I ever going to survive this?” I brace for impact.
After what feels like an eternity, I aggressively grasp for air. The wind’s been knocked out of me, but I’m still alive. Every fiber of my being hurts. But I’m alive. Finally, albeit slowly, I can breathe again but there’s a huge pain in my chest. As if a piece of my heart were missing – lunged out through the impact. Still lying face down in the earth a curious noise in the distance compels me to get up.
And just as I will myself up off the ground and turn my head to look up in the sky at the sound, I realize I know what the noise is. It’s your laugh. The high, full bodied, infectious laugh that is your signature. The laugh washes over me. I look further up into the sky and see that my parachute, the one I thought I had, was actually a hot air balloon. And in the basket I can just make out a thin figure of a woman with crazy curly brown hair.
Another wave of your laughter washes over me. The pain in my chest throbs as tears stream down my face. And yet, at the sound of your laughter echoing from the distance I feel like everything will be ok. My heart will heal over time.
I squint and can see you waving, laughing as the hot air balloon takes you further and further away. Although I still hurt everywhere I’m relived to hear your laugh again.
Whenever I need you I know I can just look up into the sky, close my eyes, and listen for that amazing and infectious laugh.
I wave back, “you’re finally free now mama!” Eventually the hot air balloon disappears. But your laugh, your laugh will always be with me.
June 1, 1957 – December 30, 2016