May 21st is a special birthday in our house. It is the birthday of our middle son, Caleb Joshua Freedom Sklar, who was stillborn on this day 8 years ago.
We miss him immensely. That never goes away, nor do we want it to go away. It’s just a part of loving a son who lives in heaven. A unique love is required, and we freely give it to our Caleb.
Balloon launches have always been our way of celebrating Caleb’s birthday – we’ve done a launch ever since his first birthday. Most are done in Sudbury, and a couple were done out of town because his birthday usually falls on the Victoria Day long weekend. Other family members celebrate our Caleb with their own balloon launches in the places where they live. It’s a special reminder of our special son, and balloons make it a child-friendly celebration so we can involve the young ones in our family.
We tell our boys (and my sister tells her children) about Caleb who is part of our family, but lives in heaven instead of with us. We tell them about hope – that Caleb lives with God and Jesus and the angels and lots of other people that love him. We tell them that one day we will meet him and it will be so much fun to play with him and talk to him.
It eases the sadness for us as we talk to the children about Caleb. Children always bring such hope. Our Caleb brings hope too. Hope for a world beyond this one. Hope for the future.
I wouldn’t trade this intense missing him, these times tinged with sadness. There will always be this feeling along the fringe as we remember him.
We want it to be all smiles and laughter, but how can it be really?
At least it IS possible to laugh and cry all at the same time – amazing how God made us so we can do that. We’re such a jumble of emotion in our humanness, aren’t we?
I know He laughs and cries with us, and that makes it all the more bearable.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t know where to put Caleb in my heart. He doesn’t fit with the other two boys who I get to see every day. I have to love Caleb so differently. I have to make a special place for him in my heart. The trick is not to leave him in there, separated from all the rest. I’m still fitting him in with the rest. Still. But I never want to stop letting him into everything, never shutting him away, letting my love for him touch ALL the rest.
Now, on to the details of the Balloon Launch 2011.
This year Elijah sat down to write a note to his brother. Later we would insert it into the helium balloon before they blew it up at the store.
The note says: I hope you have fun with God and Jesus.
Amazing, isn’t it? Straight from the heart of a little boy, and so real, and such a wonderful thought – that Caleb is having fun with God and Jesus on his birthday.
He threw in this other drawing he did as well:
Josiah chose to include some jelly beans. After trying four jelly beans in the balloon, we realized only one could be inserted without weighing down the balloon. We needed it to float away for the launch.
We chose to release our balloon at the playground at the boys’ school. They are closing the school next month, so we won’t have another chance to release it from there in the future. And this is most likely where Caleb would have gone to school.
We all stood on the playground, sang Happy Birthday to Caleb, kissed the balloon and LET IT GO!
It wasn’t a very windy day, and the sky was clear, so the balloon took its time floating up to the heavens, and we were able to see it for a long time.
We play a game every year – Who Can Spot The Balloon The Longest?
Eagle-Eye Josh always wins.
Want to play with us?
OK – launch the balloon!
Now see if you can spot it…
And it’s gone, over the trees, into the sky, up to the heavens.
Hope you are having fun with God and Jesus today, Caleb.
Happy 8th Birthday.
Loving you, as always angel boy,