After the aforementioned balloon episode, I decided NOT to have the balloon write back to to Ben. It just seemed like it would add insult to injury, no matter how much the balloon would have insisted what a wonderful and happy place Balloonia is.
The memory of the balloon is still very much with us.
Every day since it happened, at some point in the day, usually when he is tired or sad or anxious, Ben will ask me:
"Where's my balloon from Trader Joe's?"
"It went up in the sky and now it's in Balloonia."
Tonight was one of those nights when Ben just needed a good cry. The initial trigger was something small, having to do with the bathtub, but part way through the crying jag, he started saying, "I'm thinking about my balloon. I miss my balloon."
It's been three weeks since we lost the balloon, and in between now and then, then he's gotten two more balloons: one at a birthday party and one after a haircut. He's successfully held onto them and had fun with them in the house until they turned, as we like to say, tired and saggy.
We bought a bag of balloons and played with them, blowing them up, letting them go, shrieking and ducking as they spiraled around the rooom.
I was hoping these new positive memories would overwrite the initial trauma. But they haven't entirely done that.
I think for awhile, the balloon will be the ultimate symbol of sadness for Ben; and maybe the best way that he's found to put sadness into words right now:
"I miss my balloon."