When I was a kid, I remember looking up at the sky and remember seeing the bottom side of all the leaves on the trees that lined our gravel road and the further up I would look up and I would see the sky, the clouds and sometimes birds. We could only ever see the moon, or the sun if we went to the pond or further into the woods, or into town. We never even saw rainbows. I knew they were a real thing because on the bus ride home we would see them after a rainy day on the way home from time to time. It was rare because rainbows weren’t important to me back then, cool to spot but nothing I searched for.
Rainbows as we know are caused by sunlight when it enters water droplets, separating into its wavelengths (colors), but it also has spiritual and traditional meanings as well. It can also mean, the sign of a new beginning. In my life, in my experience we never had a real meaning. I just created my own.
My father passed away in our home in 2006. He was young, just 35 years old. We had laid him down to rest on June 6, 2006, during a hot summer afternoon. It was ironic because the location of his burial was in an isolated wooded area a little outside of town. Right where he would be happy. You look up and all you see is the bottom of the leaves of all of the trees, and the further up you look you see the sky, the clouds, and the birds. There isn’t a way to see the moon, or the sun, or even a rainbow until you made your way out of the woods. Or even into town. I remember, we live in the Midwest, right smack in the middle and the southernmost corner of Iowa, so it’s hot. It’s humid. Just the idea climate for Dad to go mushroom hunting, so if there was life after death, that’s just what he would be doing once we all left this space and the burial quieted down. I imagined him sitting on this small broken piece of cement that looked like it was once a small wall to possibly section out the different burials, just waiting. His spirit sitting there in his white wife-beater, maybe a little bit of dirt on it. His blue jeans and wore out tennis shoes. It gave me comfort leaving him there alone as we all walked down to our cars. I was just 13 and I remember being afraid of leaving him by himself. I kept asking for him to give me a sign. Please tell me you are ok. Nothing. But as long as I imagined him sitting there waiting to mushroom hunt that was good enough for me.
The next morning, I am laying there. It had rained …. I watched it all night long, I watched the sky paint different canvases of clouds and blues and pinks as the sun came up. I looked at the clock and it was about 6:00 a.m., no one else was awake and I still was unable to sleep. I decide to go downstairs and drink some coffee and hope our porch swing was dry enough for me to sit outside. To my surprise it was. The grass still wet, the porch still wet, but the swing was dry. I sat down and tears streamed my face for the first time since laying my dad to rest. I just begged him and begged him to give me a sign he hasn’t actually left us. I took a drink of the coffee I made before coming out and I happened to look over the brim of my cup mid- drink and see a rainbow on the on the other side of main street. We lived right on the corner of main street and the front porch was a front row view of all the businesses lining both sides of main street heading north. The rainbow was right over the old Conn Communication store. I spit my coffee back into my cup and in my head and I said, ” Hi Dad. “, and I sat there frozen. I sat there frozen, stunned watching as the rainbow faded.
That was my meaning of a Rainbow. A rainbow was my Dad stopping by to say ” Hi.” from time to time. It may have also been the start of a new beginning as well but mostly, my Dad was saying ” Hi.”. My life eventually begins to continue, just as it does for any one after any passing. You don’t move on but you do keep moving forward. Right? Trials and tribulations come and go and by the time I’m in my mid-twenties, things begin to get better. Having left an abusive relationship, I enter a new relationship at the age of 23 and life is good. I still have to navigate how to live a healthy lifestyle, transitioning from a victim into a survivor and this man that I begin this new life with, Johnathon, I used to call him my superhero, but I’m serious. He really became my saving grace. He opened my eyes to a lot. We had laid in bed together and had a discussion about having a baby. He never had biological children of his own, but he did fall in love with my two. He just adored them. I did want another baby, we had the conversation, but the relationship was new. Starting the conversation was scary but some part of me kept saying that my biological clock was ticking. I was still young and still had seven years at the time before I was even thirty, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Well, we had the conversation and started trying immediately.
We got pregnant fairly soon and I was more than ecstatic and Johnathon BAFFELED at how fast it happened. If a person could become sunshine, that was Johnathon. He was just beaming. Weeks go by and I am steadily growing. After having already having children it doesn’t take much for your body to begin the changes. September rolls through, I’m about 12 weeks or so according to my pregnancy app and I have this wedding to photoshoot that I have been hired out to do by a co-worker. The wedding was absolutely beautiful, I was still pretty small, so my belly wasn’t going to be in the way and it was just a great turn out. I end the day doing dishes and the next thing I know I experience a sudden and sharp pain. I have never been stabbed by a knife before, but I imagine the sensation was similar. A small gush, and I think oh my goodness, It hurt so bad that I peed my pants right? Embarrassing, but no. I put the dish down to change my clothes, but quickly realize I am actually bleeding. I knew immediately. I made several phone calls to people to get my kids, get Johnathon and get me to the hospital. Everyone reassuring me that sometimes spotting happens and while I knew that this, however, was not it. After several hours in the hospital, we received confirmation that I had miscarried, and while I was supposed to be 12 weeks along, the fetus had actually stopped growing at eight weeks, and two days. One day after our first ultrasound.
A few weeks go by and after we had begun the process of moving forward and inching our way back to work and normalcy, we begin to try for a baby again. We once again became pregnant fairly fast. This time we kept it a secret. My best friend became pregnant at the same time, she was scared to tell me after I had just had a loss, I was scared to tell her after I had a loss too and it was just a crying, jumbling, hormonal mess. So, I didn’t tell her. I assured her that I was happy for her. I really was!
We have our first ultrasound and find there were two sacs. Twins. Except one of the sacs were empty. The doctor explains that the reason there was no sign or symptoms of a miscarriage was because the fetus, never developed past cells and eventually was absorbed back into my body. Later I learn the term for this is, ” vanishing twin syndrome. “. Mind blowing. It was quiet for a little, and my heart was heavy. I’m not sure how I could handle carrying twins in my body at 5’2”, it’s possible and I would have. I couldn’t deal with another loss. I left content with knowing the baby didn’t suffer, was not in pain and the other baby was safe and that itself, made the loss a very different experience for me and to this day I still feel guilty for not grieving the same way as the last miscarriage. I wasn’t devastated, just sad. My brain just automatically made me focus on the care of the surviving baby.
We welcomed our baby 9 months later, our little girl Ruby June, and she was blonde as a could be. She had fair skin, dimples and was just perfect. She looked like a real-life baby doll. By then I had remembered learning how the birth of a new baby after a miscarriage was actually called a Rainbow baby. I took a picture of her beautiful face, as I held her in my arms in the hospital and captured it, ” Mommy, Daddy, and your sisters love you Ruby … our beautiful Rainbow Baby.”
The newborn stages had come and gone, we decided we needed to get a bigger home as we were running out of space now with three kids. We get through this entire moving process and Ruby is about 7 months old by then. We moved our final belongings, we were staying for the first night in our new home, and the windows were open. It’s March 13, 2019, it had just rained, and we look out of our window and there was a double rainbow. One right over the other. It was two FULL rainbows. I ran back into my house, grabbed my phone and immediately started taking pictures. By now I am 25 years old, never had I seen a FULL rainbow, and never have I seen TWO FULL rainbows, over top of each other. Never. The rainbow was so big, that I could only catch a picture of one of them in its full size, so I had to take a shot over across the street to get both of them at least. I had to get both of them because I knew it was my dad stopping by to say ” Hi ” and bring my babies by.
If you ask my oldest daughter, Alivia, what her favorite colors are today, and she will tell you that it is all the colors of the rainbow. She has no real reason why. She just knows she likes all of the colors. She will draw rainbows all over the place even. I have never told her about my meaning of rainbows, what a rainbow baby is. Nothing. I know that this story is random, and it seems like I have an obsession with rainbows, and I guess maybe I do but I’m ok with that. A rainbow will always represent my dad and babies coming to say, ” Hello.” to me.