As a child, I had the good fortune of taking a ride in a hot air balloon over Northern California with my mom, my uncle, my grandma, and a few strangers. The morning air was crisply cool, although I took comfort in the heat that emanated in bursts from the burners just overhead. Flight was nothing new to me, even at a young age, but hovering a mile above the ground with nothing under my feet but a wicker basket was quite extraordinary. I knew my mom would not have taken me up had she believed this to be dangerous, yet I understood the inherent precariousness of such an Icarian endeavor. Fortunately our pilot did not succumb to hubris that day.
Today is a day that is uniquely special to me. For some time now, the journey toward inevitable departure has weighed thickly on my mind. I have met and known many people in my time so far; some remain close in one way or another, and others vanish. The most influential, in some fashion, maintain a proper perch in our minds, a luminous guide for our steps, and a tugging force on our hearts. If we believe that our human endeavor is a collection of our innumerable experiences and interactions with the world and her temporary inhabitants, then even though we all physically depart from one another, the spirit of who we are together is everlasting.
We each take a balloon ride in our life - seeking the perennial balance of altitude between too low and too high. We share parts of the ride (if we're lucky) with some pretty wonderful passengers. As perplexing a notion as someone dear to us having floated away is, it is essential - and of great consolation - that we approach it with the child-like ambition that we can and should fly, and so should they. Perhaps the best we can do is let them go and pray they get to where they need to be. Who knows? Maybe that destination is where we will meet again.