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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Laughter (10/18/04)

TITLE: The Black Balloons
By Martha Robinson
10/23/04

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Laughter is like music to a heart that sings.

I have always heard that "Laughter is the best medicine". Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that "There is a time for everything," and in verse 4 we read, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh."

Let me set the stage for you. The summer of the year that I turned 50, was a crisis filled time in my life. My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My sister and I stayed with her until she passed away, nearly twelve weeks after her initial surgery.

Two weeks after her death, I was back in my classroom as a special education teacher at a local high school. It was my birthday, but I had no desire to celebrate, although it was a momentous birthday.

My teaching assistant had other ideas. At one point during the day, I returned to find a darkened classroom. I couldn't imagine where my students and Lorie were. I walked into the classroom, switched on the lights, and they all jumped out from behind partitions, and shouted, "Surprise!"

And what a surprise I had! The entire room was decorated with black--black streamers hung from the ceiling, a black tablecloth covered a long worktable, and black balloons were everywhere! Lorie had made a birthday cake, and on top were two black candles spelling out the number "50". We sang "Happy Birthday", but I was not really in a festive mood. Photographs taken that day show sad looking faces. I had even worn a black dress to school that day. My students had absorbed my mood as well.

For some reason the balloons stayed around for a really long time. My birthday was in November, and in February, they were still there. There came a day when I no longer wanted to see them, so we decided to pop them.

Have you ever popped a balloon by sitting on it? There were enough balloons for each of my students. I demonstrated the procedure myself, and popped the first one. Suddenly I was laughing. My students were soon caught up in the spirit and the excitement, and we all were laughing. Not only was it fun, but it seemed to liberate our spirits.

We were down to our last balloon, when a visitor walked into the classroom. I was laughing so hard, it was hard for me to stop, long enough to explain what we were doing.

The visitor was one of the judges of a team of three who would determine if our high school would be selected as the Palmetto Finest for that year. The school had already been named a finalist, and this was the second and final visit. The judge had heard our laughter in the hallway, and wanted to see what so much fun was. After an almost strangled and I'm sure incoherent explanation, he moved on to another classroom.

I thought, "Oh, no! I blew our school's chances of receiving this prestigious award, by doing something really stupid!" Later when other faculty and staff members asked if any of the judges had visited my classroom, I was embarrassed and blushed each time I related the story.

My school did win the Palmetto Finest Award that year!

I think God gave me the gift of laughter that day. It was His way of saying that it was time to release the sorrow in my heart and to move on. And I know that God's timing is always right and always best.


Member Comments
Member Date
Teresa Lee Rainey10/25/04
Martha, that was beautiful. I'm beginning to think healing laughter is the best kind :^)
Corinne Smelker 10/25/04
Great story - I loved the personal touch
Alan Vaca10/27/04
I like your smooth naration. Popping balloons by sitting on them, haha! I should try it too!
Melanie Kerr 10/27/04
Escellent narrative. I don't like the sound of balloons popping, but I can imagine how much fun it must have been!
L.M. Lee10/27/04
Sorry for you loss, but what a beautiful testimony of God's grace in the worse.
Phyllis Inniss 10/28/04
Sorry about your loss and God showed you through your students how to leave your sadness behind. Blessings.
Verlie Ruhl10/28/04
Martha, your story is well-written and so poignant. And what a fitting way to get rid of those awful black balloons! Good for you!
Debbie OConnor10/30/04
Good article. Have to wonder at the taste of those who would give you a black birthday party. I love the "sitting on balloons" idea. What a great and healthy way to be rid of them.
Roberta Kittrell10/30/04
Martha, excellent article. I could identify with you, in that I have had to experience the death of all the members of my family except my remaining sister and brother-in-law. In most cases, I had to keep on keeping on because I lived from paycheck to paycheck.

I am sure that, by the time you all were deciding to bust the balloons, you had begun to see the other thought behind the wierd birthday celebration.

Your assistant and pupils must have loved you so much.

When my grandson turned 30, everything was done in black as he celebrated an over-the-hill party. Hisservant, Bobbi