Raymond died right after our grand-daughter’s 2nd birthday. We had a small party in the backyard for her with family and friends. Raymond seemed so young that day as if he wasn’t 75- years-old. He played with our grand-daughter and seemed so jovial. It was a day that would add to the memories of our lives, but I didn’t think it would be the last memory of Raymond. I never expected him to leave me, but when I woke up in the morning I found his body there, but he was gone.
Two weeks after his funeral, I found myself furious at Raymond. I was so upset that Raymond left me here with not so much as a kiss goodbye. Raymond and I use to go to dinner every other weekend during our 55-years of marriage until I had a heart attack and just like that Raymond grew cold. I didn’t understand why, but he just seemed to turn off the love we once shared. We found ourselves home together not even speaking. We’d been together so long. I never said anything to him about it, but I missed him and I never thought that he would die. I loved him so much and it pleased me to see him so happy with Chrissie on her birthday. Standing at the kitchen sink, I began to think of that day and the laughter that came out of Raymond that afternoon. When I looked out of the kitchen window that’s when I saw the red balloon moving in the wind, trying to escape from the Japanese maple it was caught up in. I remembered it from the birthday party; the day before Raymond died. With Chrissie on his lap Raymond had the balloon and was playing with it causing Chrissie to laugh and laugh. I’d been so caught up with funeral arrangements and trying to keep busy so I didn’t have to think about the pain of losing Raymond that I never noticed the balloon. The sight of the balloon brought on so many different emotions, anger, sadness, and somberness. I wanted to tear it out of the tree and pop it. With a pair of scissors, I went out to the back yard, walked to the tree, and cut the balloon free. Finally with the balloon in my hand I took the scissors and popped it. The red pieces fell to the ground. Feeling victorious over the balloon I was about to go back inside when I noticed among the scattered pieces of balloon there was a piece of paper. At first I was going to let it stay on the ground thinking that it would blow away in the wind, but my curiosity made my old bones bend over to pick up the paper. When I saw the familiar hand writing of my deceased husband’s I felt faint and sat in the nearest lawn chair. Sitting down my weak old heart was beating so fast. I feared I was going to have another heart attack and die before I even read what the note said. I looked at the writing again, sure that I would learn that I had just mistaken the handwriting for Raymond’s, but I was not mistaken; it was his. Tears flooded my eyes disabling me from seeing the words clearly. I gathered myself and read the note.
My dearest Olivia-
Today at Chrissie’s birthday I saw you and was reminded of all the reasons I love you. After your heart attack I was afraid I was going to lose you and I didn’t know how to handle my emotions. I am sorry. I know you were upset with me and how I was acting towards you. I want you to know that I still love you just as much as I did when we were first married. I wanted to let you know before I lost my chance.
Then, Now, Forever
Warm tears fell down my cheeks. Somehow Raymond knew what was going to happen. Somehow he was able to get this message to me so that I would know how he felt before he left me. I kept the note that Ray left and framed it. It sits in the middle of the frame with a picture of us when we first got married in the top left corner and the last picture taken of me and Raymond before he died, in the bottom right corner. Raymond helped me to know that you really don’t live forever, and I know one day sooner than later I’ll die and be with him once again, but until that day I’ll always share my love with my family. Now Raymond tells me he loves me everyday, when I see the note that fell out of the red balloon.