Now it seemed as if each memory was enclosed in a weightless balloon, and he quietly watched as one after another lifted off and soared slowly into the blue sky air. Each had a familiar face that was vanishing, until all he could see was the empty sky at last, the silent sky that hovered over him, that would shelter him as he slept once again that child-like sleep, filled with nothing but tiny smiles and the friendship of the invisible ones who shone a soft glow from within.
Yes, he had traveled, but although he kept arriving somewhere, he was never actually anywhere different, only the surroundings seemed to change. They were always changing, making memories for the later balloon rides, and if he didn’t think of those places now, had he ever really been there? The invisible ones were compassionate in this way: they guided him to the sleeping state where he could relax, let go, and forget.
For no particular reason in the greater scheme of things, today was the day when he stopped trying to hold onto the balloons, and so they gradually began to float away. It wasn’t a deliberate surrender. The hand in his mind simply opened, and the celestial ascension commenced.
Nor did he take the opportunity such an event afforded to say any parting words. Really, what can one say in the end? That this was meant to be? Who knows what is meant to be — nobody knows, if the truth be told, although that may never happen either. The truth is where the colored balloons appear and disappear within, like millions of tiny incandescent bubbles traveling through vast emptiness.
Like the others of his kind, he was a dreamer. He imagined that each balloon would find its own star to circle, would become a solid thing with continents forming, shifting under the tectonic impulses that had their source in his ancient memory. Eventually, small breathing beings would leave the seas on this pristine world and begin to make their own balloons to lift up and continue the work he had started when he too emerged from his own warm ocean and learned to walk the dry land.
There are memories we would rather cherish and keep, others which we would just as soon see disappear, as if they had never happened at all, as if we were all those children again, happy to run and laugh and play. Regardless of how we would like things to be, our balloons will rise before our eyes — a memory flotilla — and as they drift through the infinite skies, the invisible ones will stand by our side, comforting their dear children.