Posted by: Dan | May 29, 2013

Best Friends Forever


He bought some helium balloons and wrote on them with a large felt marker: “do not resuscitate.”  He tied them to his wrist and climbed the six flights of stairs to the top of his building.  When he forced open the door to the roof it triggered an alarm.  He didn’t need a lot of time.  A few steps and the parking lot below.


His message wasn’t necessary.  When they found him his head didn’t resemble much of anything we would recognize as a head.  It was broken and shattered and leaking lots of things.  More than you might imagine, unless you’ve seen that sort of thing before.  The balloons were still attached to him.  They were floating straight above him.  There wasn’t any wind.


When he stepped off the edge, I wonder if he wanted to just hold onto those balloons and float away.  I guess
in a way
he did.



(And I took the balloons – I took them home with me.  I think he’s still there, inside of them.  At night I hear them scream with a voice that seems to be rising from underwater: “Do not resuscitate!  Do not resuscitate! Do not resuscitate!”  I hold them in bed beside me and I whisper to them, “It’s okay.  I’m here.  It’ll get better, I promise.”  As the balloons shrivel the voice gets fainter and now they are deflated I carry them with me in my wallet.  I take him places and tell him what I see.  At night I still whisper to them, “It’s okay.  I’m here.  It’ll get better, I promise.”  Sometimes I hold them to my ear and I think I can hear the faintest, dried-out whisper, “Please… please… please…”.  I will never puncture them.  I will love him forever.  He’s my friend.  I’ll make him better.  I promise.)


  1. I think this story is a profound testimony to love and friendship DanO and I’m glad you shared it. I have a great friend and former priest here on the Island who is building a framework and community for increasing their ministry of hospice care and we have been, as I have mentioned, working through the Celtic wisdom of Anam Cara and how that understanding might help minister to the dying.

    From my readings this morning just before seeing your post I read: “The life of the soul is about the transfiguration of nothingness.” Perhaps your story could be said to resonate a bit with that idea of the ‘transfiguration of nothingness?‘ I say this in part because I find in your story a great deal of hope (whether you put it there or not). Later I read this passage that also seemed to be having a conversation with me and your story:

    “Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. Somehow at a particular time, they came from the distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed so accidental and contingent. Now your life is unimaginable without them. Similarly, your identity and vision are composed of a certain constellation of ideas and feelings that surfaced from the depths of the distance within you. To lose these now would be to lose yourself” (pg.76).

    Yes, one can find sadness and maybe even tragedy here too, and I keep asking myself how much of my life I have given over to the blowing up of balloons that can not carry me or anyone else, yet I won’t accept that those breaths were wasted. Still, we cling to those balloons DanO as if they could contain what Husserl called an “ur-prasenz.” But of course this presence we long for is never contained by us. So here then, see if this poem by Norman MacCaig has anything to add to our conversation.


    I give you an emptiness,
    I give you a plenitude,
    Unwrap them carefully.
    -one’s as fragile as the other-
    And when you thank me
    I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice
    when you say they’re just what you wanted.
    Put them on the table by your bed.
    When you wake in the morning
    they’ll have gone through the door of sleep
    into your head.
    Wherever you go
    they’ll go with you and
    wherever you are you’ll wonder,
    smiling about the fullness
    you can’t add to and the emptiness
    that you can fill.

    Every blessing and much obliged.

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