"Love You, Mom"
I dreamed of the impossible—to hear from my son one last time
By Mona Robbins, Holton, Michigan
Three Mother's Day cards stood on the living-room console, meant to cheer me up, I suppose. Yet I couldn't help thinking, There should be four. I couldn't help thinking of my oldest, Dennis. Two years, now, since he died, yet my grief hadn't faded. If anything, it had gotten worse.
Dennis was my determined one. He ran his own business down in Texas. Even when he was diagnosed with MS in his 30s, he refused to let it get in his way. He went everywhere in his wheelchair, even designed a special one to travel with when he visited us in Michigan. You almost forgot Dennis had anything wrong with him, which is exactly what he wanted.
Then he was struck down by terminal cancer. Because of the MS, perhaps, it spread quickly. In those last days, we spoke on the phone when I couldn't be with him in Texas (Dennis could no longer travel and I was also caring for his father, who was seriously ailing). Dennis always managed to say one thing before he hung up, "Love you, Mom."
"I love you too, Denny," I said, though each time the words were harder to get out, because I knew it might be the last time I said them.
I thought a lot about his life in those last days, what a fine man he'd become, what a sweet little boy he had been, a boy who loved birthdays and balloons. Lord, how will I ever go on without hearing him say, "Love you, Mom?"
For the funeral the family gathered at our church in Michigan. At the end of the service we went out to the parking lot. Everybody was given a balloon. There were more than 100 of them—sky blue, hot pink, daffodil yellow, green like new grass
Our minister said a few words, then we released the balloons. I watched them float into the blustery March sky and disappear. Into the arms of God, like Denny, I tried telling myself. But as the months passed, my grief grew. If only I could let go of my son like I had that balloon.
For a week I kept those Mother's Day cards on the console, hoping they would comfort me. But, no, they made me miss Dennis all the more. Sunday I got up early. I took coffee to the dining room so I could look out the window to our backyard. The lilac bush was in full bloom and birds darted among the trees by our wishing well.
Something appeared in the sky. A shiny Mylar balloon. It slipped between the trees, hovered above the wishing well, then stopped at the bird feeders. There was no string holding it and the breeze was blowing in the opposite direction, yet it floated toward the house. From the window I could see all my favorite flowers printed on it—lilacs, violets and pansies. There was a message too, but I couldn't make it out. I went outside to get a closer look.
That balloon didn't come from out of nowhere. Nor did the sudden sense of peace and relief that enveloped me. I knew exactly where it came from. Printed boldly across the front of the balloon were the words "Love you, Mom."