If you’re reading this in the future, it’s important to know the following events happened amidst a global pandemic the likes of which hadn’t been seen for a century. As such, we had been inside keeping to ourselves. A lot. For years.
On an unassuming Wednesday in December, I went to the store and bought Makayla two balloons for her birthday. The first was a big, yellow, smiley face balloon we’ll call Smiley. The second, arguably the less exciting of the two, was a cupcake with the words “Happy Birthday” printed on it, hereafter referred to as Cupcake.

Makayla’s birthday came and went. Presents were unwrapped, candles were blown out, and she began whapping Smiley and Cupcake around the house with her sisters. The next day, as one would expect, Smiley slowly deflated and fell to the ground. No one paid much attention. Cupcake, however, endured.
Days passed, then weeks. We began to wonder and silently place bets about whether Cupcake could make it all the way to Daddy’s birthday, a full three days after Christmas and almost three weeks after she was purchased. She did.
In the excitement of New Years and the post-holiday exhaustion afterwards, Cupcake was forgotten. A few days into 2022, someone sitting on the couch exclaimed, “My goodness, Cupcake is still on the ceiling!!” And there she was. Half her air gone, a little crumpled, but still floating proudly above the living room, watching over us as we read stories, had family movie nights, and went to bed each evening.

“Do you think she can make it all the way to Momma’s birthday??” someone asked.

“There’s no way.” Momma’s birthday was three weeks into January.
Last night, over a month after she came home, she wavered for the first time, and descended a few inches from the ceiling. We were tucking the girls into bed, and all noticed because by now the girls had brought her to their bedroom. Bedtime forgotten, we stared and waited. Slowly, the minutes passed, and she came a few more feet to just out of Emma’s reach. The girls cheered, and we stood back, watching silently, knowing we were witnessing something special.

Then, against all odds, Cupcake began to rise again. Inch by inch, she climbed until once more she was perched against the ceiling.

“Wow,” we said. “She’s still fighting.”

We watched her go up and down until it was over a half hour after bedtime, and she didn’t seem like she was coming down anymore. We tucked the girls into bed and promised to call them if she was about to touch the floor and carried her down to the living room.

When we came down the next day, she was gone.

Maybe it was air currents, maybe it was sheer will, but we found her on the kitchen floor tucked under a stool, down a hall, over thirty feet from where we left her.

Today, I was playing a board game with Emma at the coffee table. Cupcake was on one side of the room, and I took my eyes off her. Then, I felt a playful touch on my other ear, and there was Cupcake, still drifting.

At press time, as I’m writing, she went up, circled the room, landed beside me on the couch, and is rising again.
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