Balloon release helps parents cope with loss of children

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Oct. 6, 2010 at 5:06 a.m.

Ida DeLosSantos ties a letter of thoughts, prayers and love to a bright-colored balloon and looks toward the sky as she feels the rough string snake through and from her grasp.

Letting go of the sole balloon is a true release.

And the letter attached to it, well, that's for her son, who died of leukemia.

"Every parent out there who has ever lost a child knows it's not all for the best," the Victoria native said. "There is no better place for a child than his mother's arms. No matter how old he is."

DeLosSantos, and others who have also experienced the loss of a child, will release balloons at the Victoria Rose Garden on Saturday afternoon.

The liberating event is in its 16th year with The Compassionate Friends, a Victoria support group for those who have lost a child.

DeLosSantos' son, Joe Edward Prado, 29, died in May 2004 - nearly three years after he was diagnosed with the cancer.

The fight was tough, but DeLosSantos said her son was a believer in living life to the fullest and would want his mother to do the same, she said.

"It's easy to dig a hole and crawl in," she said. "I want him to be proud of me."

Having the balloon release in October is the perfect time because Thanksgiving and Christmas are the hardest holidays to get through, she added.

Following the release, cookies and punch will be served.

Doris Perkins, treasurer of The Compassionate Friends - Victoria chapter, has been with the group since 1992 and said though people do not always go to the meetings, they get a growing crowd of people who attend the balloon release.

"It's really something," she said. "Someone asked me just recently when the balloon release was and I didn't even know her."

DeLoSantos admits the event and her faith in God help get her through to the next balloon release.

"When I went to them (Compassionate Friends), it was like I found a home," she said. "This is a place where every parent can go and we can actually talk about our kids and we know the person next to us really understands."



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