Letting Go

Every year on 1st March, Jenny and Dan meet to remember the life of their daughter Rosie who tragically died at just 5 years old. After splitting because the grief tore them apart, this significant day is the only time they speak and remember their little girl by adding another balloon every year and letting them go.
But can they really let go of the life that was so cruelly taken from them? Or will they continue to drift trying to move on? *for the Spring picture competition*

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1. 1st March

I watch the wind gently blow the leaves on the trees so that the branches shake slightly. The sound of calm fills the air but the intoxicating sense of sadness overwhelms me. I adjust my high heels that are rubbing on the back of my foot, instantly regretting wearing them as soon as I stepped out of the house. But I want to look smart. I want to look like I'm moving on in my life. I have to, for her.

I look up to the sound of footsteps, my eyes drawn to his battered converse trainers and faded blue jeans. Nostalgia overpowers me as my mind flashes back to all the times we spent together, the laughs, the fights, the memories, the grief.

"Jenny?"

I meet his eyes, piercing blue that see right through to my soul. He hasn't changed much, slightly less hair, a bit more stubble, nothing significant. I swallow, trying to compose myself.

"Hi Dan, how are you doing?"

It's such an open ended question and so inappropriate to ask on a day like today but he gives a small shrug and says, "You know, pretty much the same".

Only I don't know, as me and Dan haven't spoken for a year. The last time I saw him was this exact day last year, and the day the year before that. For five years we have been coming to Abbey Park, a beautiful yet remote country park that holds many treasured yet painful memories for both of us. The 1st March is the only day when we forget everything else in our insignificant lives and focus on remembering our little girl.

"Did you bring them?" I ask him, standing up from the bench and wrapping arms around me as a gust of wind whistles through the air.

He takes out a small bag containing 10 pink deflated balloons. I smile at the choice of colour, Rosie's favourite.

He hands me a couple to blow up then ties a piece of string from each end and holds them all in a cluster.

"She loved pink", he says softly.

"I know, do you remember that time she tried to paint the living room walls pink? She said she wanted a fairy palace".

I smile a sad sort of the smile, the type that makes people ask question and wonder the secret your hiding. But Dan understands, after all he is the only other person who I know that can possibly comprehend the way I feel each day. He puts his arms round me and for a second everything stands still. Its just Dan and me, wrapped in our own little bubble, protected from the bad memories and murky depths of sadness. Then we snap back to reality as another gust of wind hisses at us and we break apart.

"Ready?" he asks me as he hands me a cluster of balloons. They pull against me like they are trying to escape but I don't want to let them go, not just yet.

"Jen?" Dan is looking at me, wondering why I haven't given the brief nod I always do and then releasing my clasp of the string.

"It's not fair", I say shakily, trying to fight back the tears that are glistening behind my eyes. "She was so little".

"Jen, we've been through this, there was nothing we could have..."

"Does that make it any easier?" I cut in, turning to face him and wiping away the tears that have now escaped from hiding.

"Of course not, but thinking about the what ifs and could have beens, is not going to help".

"Then what will help Dan?" I ask, my voice being drowned out by the wind, "Because I have tried, I really have, but I can't move on, I just can't".

I fall to the floor, my legs giving way from beneath me, the memories too heavy for me to carry.

I feel his arms around me, I smell his distinctive aroma of aftershave and feel his stubble rest on my chin as we kneel there, two lost and broken shells alone in a deserted park.

After a while, the tears stop coming and I feel Dan's warm hands gently lift my chin up so my eyes meet his.

"She wouldn't want this", he says so quietly that I almost don't hear him, "She would want you to be happy".

"But I can't, not without her".

"Rosie had cancer, it wasn't our fault. There was nothing we could have done, the doctors told us they couldn't operate because it had spread too far. I miss her too Jen, every day. I walk down the road and see a toy being advertised and think of buying it for Rosie, and then I remember. It hurts, but it will get easier. It has to".

"It’s been five years Dan, and it still feels like yesterday. I love her so much and just wish I could have gone instead".

"You're here for a reason. We all are. Rosie brought us joy for the five short yet amazing years we had the privilege of spending with her, now you need to let her go".

I stand up and take a deep breath before pulling Dan up beside me and grabbing his hand so the balloons touch together.

"It's time to let go", I whisper, "I love you", then we release our clasp and watch the 10 pink balloons, one for every year of her beautiful life, drift into the air and float far away, setting her free.

 

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