Monday, August 16, 2021

A Balloon for Jesus’ Tomb: Good Friday in the Kroger Parking Lot

My throat had been sore for a week, my glands swollen. I was exhausted. Because of a disruption in communication at my doctor’s office there was a two-day delay in getting medication.

Tired from the drains of multiple communications with my doctor’s office, and confused about what was happening in my body and the things my practitioner wanted to do to help, I drove to Kroger to pick up my medication.

It has been my practice over the past year to use the drive-through. That day, I saw a sign on the tube saying the drive-through was broken. With frustration, I drove to the parking lot and found an empty spot. I had been in the store only a few times since receiving my second vaccine.

It was late in the afternoon on Good Friday and I found the parking lot packed with cars. I dreaded going inside with so many other people.

Getting out of my car, I noticed a woman in the first handicapped space closest to the store, struggling to fit multiple plastic bags filled with balloons into the back of her car. 

I walked over and said, “Do you need some help?”

She looked at me and I could see relief in her eyes above her mask. It’s amazing how much can be conveyed with only the eyes.

“Yes, I would. Thank you”

“I will hold the balloons while you put the trunk up.” I said, “Someone is going to have a lot of fun with these.” I could see through the plastic the many colors of the balloons.

The woman looked at me and I could see a change in her eyes. They were sad and teary. I wondered what I had said to upset her.

“I am taking the balloons to the cemetery to decorate my brother’s grave. Last November, on Friday the 13th, he died suddenly of a heart attack. He was 49. Today, another Friday, is his birthday.“ Her eyes smiled as she talked about him. “We were very close. I had a feeling something was wrong that day. I called my mother and went over to his house and found him on the floor. He was already gone.”

I paused for a minute to take in what she told me. 

“I have heard of people taking balloons to the graves of those they love. I will think about you the rest of the day as you go and remember your brother. “ I visualized her walking over the grass and placing the balloons next to a granite tombstone. 

“I appreciate that,” she replied as she went on her way. 

I walked into Kroger and walked right up to the counter without anyone else around. Going back to my car, I was thinking about Good Friday, the day Jesus died. He was surrounded by his mother and the disciples who could do nothing to save him. Jesus was fulfilling the scripture, dying for our sins. 

Talking to the woman in the parking lot made Good Friday more real to me. I don’t know if she realized it was Good Friday, but as I was thinking about her, I was also remembering Jesus who died on the same day that she was visiting her brother’s grave.

I don’t have a grave where I can take balloons to celebrate Jesus’ life, and what life in Jesus has offered to me. But maybe stopping and helping her, showing kindness and love to a stranger, is one way I can honor Jesus. Perhaps any type of kindness shown in the spirit of God’s love can be like offering a balloon at Jesus tomb. 

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