This image struck me. It looks like a friendly sun buoyed up against gray winter skies, does it not? A happy omen to be sure. I snapped the photo with my phone in a hospital cafeteria. But if you really think about the context of this picture, it takes on an entirely different meaning. Either someone intended to bring that balloon to a sick patient in the hospital—possibly a child—, or a recovering patient was carrying it home, and now that balloon is staring down from high up in the rafters, well out of reach, taunting said person and their half-eaten sandwich.
Shame on you, smiley balloon!
I came across this scene while taking a break from my post at my son's bed at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The 11YO had to have emergency surgery last week to remove a ruptured appendix. That was followed by five days and five nights of intravenous antibiotics to clear the resulting abdominal infection. Sitting in the cafeteria the day after surgery, as all of the possibilities seeped into my consciousness, I had one of those tortured moments where your entire world hangs in the balance. The 8YO was enjoying his French fries and root beer while I tried to keep my shit together, wondering if the balloon was some kind of a sign. And, if so, what it meant. Is that a sincere smile or a diabolical one? A symbol of hope or a metaphor for happiness no longer within grasp? It's really hard to tell what a balloon is thinking. Eyebrows would help.
The 11YO is home now, recovering like a champ. He only ever intended to pull through just fine. My balloon prophesies were clearly the result of too much stress and too little sleep. Still, I made sure his very own get-well balloon was firmly tethered to the handle of his bag before we walked out of the hospital into the cold, open air.