“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
This past Sunday brought an eclectic mix of weather. Warm sunshine and then a cloudy gust to cool things down. The plastic resin chairs bounced across the yard like beach balls. We had an occasional sprinkle of rain, and then the sun was out. This pattern repeated itself throughout the day and into the evening.
I was cleaning the kitchen just after dinner when a beautiful burst of sunshine seemed to just pop out of the darkness. The glorious sunshine was joined with a downpour like I hadn’t seen in a while.
“It’s the perfect mix for a rainbow,” I thought to myself as I headed outdoors. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. Across the evening sky were not one, but two rainbows. (My oldest daughter was able to snap a quick photo – see above.)
Looking at the double rainbow, I began to tear up. The beauty alone was enough to bring one to tears, but it was the rushing downpour of memories that caused me to be misty-eyed, but smiling at the same time.
Rainbows have a new meaning to me. On July 22, 2011, we were informed that the ventilator my dad was on had to come out. Though it aided his breathing, the apparatus was beginning to do more harm than good. My siblings, mom and I waited nervously while Dad went through the procedure. He came through it, was breathing on his own, and he was finally off the sedation. (Because of his Alzheimer’s, Dad was sedated so he wouldn’t remove the numerous tubes and wires attached to him.) Finally, he was able to see us! And we could see him – with his eyes open! It was wonderful – we were all crying and smiling – because after two long weeks, we had Dad back. He made eye contact with each and every one of us, smiled at us like he really recognized us, and he even tried to talk. We were able to leave the ICU room confidently, though we knew he had a very long road to recovery.
Later that evening, Dad started going downhill – and fast. Mom stayed with him all night, and we all started coming back to Dad’s room in the wee hours of the morning. By the afternoon of July 23, Dad was moved to Hospice care on another floor. His room was packed with us kids, our families and my parents’ siblings. We took shifts taking dinner breaks so that Dad wasn’t alone. Mom came home with me, where we tried to eat. We knew we had to go back to the hospital, but dreaded even thinking about returning.
A storm blew through, which gave us a few more minutes to linger over the dinner my husband had made. After a few sips of coffee, Mom was heading back. I would meet up with the rest of the family later, as I was waiting for my youngest daughter to return home from a week-long trip.
It was still sprinkling when we walked my mom outside to her car, and then out of no where was this bright, fleeting, intense sunshine. In its wake, we witnessed the most beautiful rainbow. I hugged my mom and told her, “Look, Mom, no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. God‘s got our backs.” My phone started chiming – I was getting texts from other family members who saw the rainbow, too. The texts read: “Did you see the rainbow?” and “God’s promise.” We all felt tremendous hope and comfort in that unexpected rainbow.
Five hours later, in the wee hours of July 24, Dad was on heaven’s side of the rainbow.
And now in the rainbow, for me anyways, there is also a smile from my dad.
“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 ESV