I never really used to notice rainbows. My son, Ieuan, was the one who’d get excited over the arch of colours that appeared in the sky.
“Look, mum! LOOK!”, he’d exclaim, his little face full of excitement, “Where do they come from?”
“Well,” I told him, “rainbows appear when it’s sunny and rainy together. Rainbows are just . . . . rainbows.”
I remember the exact moment when that changed. When rainbows became so much more than lines of colour. When they became meaningful. I’d never really considered signs of hope. I’d heard friends and family members who had lost people close to them talk about how they were comforted by certain things and I’d fully agreed that comfort can be found in the most unlikely of places.
It wasn’t until we lost Evalyn that I truly understood what this meant. And, you know what? Maybe sometimes the weather does just rain and shine at the same time. Maybe finding hope is just a combination of a horrible experience mixed with good timing and the need to cling on to that moment and feel a connection again. Maybe as human beings, we just need to believe that things will get better . . . . that after the storm, come rainbows.
I was in my kitchen. It was the 10th November and Evalyn had been gone for two days. Gone. I’d spent two days roaming endlessly around my house repeating that word. Gone. Constantly asking myself why my daughter was gone, and life just expected me to live with that awful decision it had made for me.
I walked over to the kitchen cupboard and took out my diary which I had been keeping since my son had been born four years previously. I documented all aspects of our family life. All of Ieuan’s little achievments. I wrote about the struggle of trying to conceive Evalyn, I wrote of falling pregnant and seeing her beautiful image on the ultrasound for the first time. I wrote of hearing her little heartbeat through the doppler. . . . . .
Now what? Empty, endless pages waiting to be filled. But with what? There would be no stories of Evalyn getting older or writing about her own achievements. But I realised that her story wasn’t finished. Her story would continue through our family life, through how we struggle to stay strong. Her story has impacted us, has changed us and in turn, she has become the underlining thought through all of our lives. And I didn’t want my diary to end with Evalyn’s death.
So I picked up a pen and began writing about Evalyn.
I hadn’t been writing long when I heard the sound of heavy rain against the window. I turned and as I looked outside, I noticed the most beautiful double rainbow had appeared across the grey sky.
I felt tears stinging at my eyes. I realised in that single moment that a rainbow wasn’t just a rainbow anymore. A rainbow was a sign that Evalyn was still somehow with us. Somehow.
For me, it was a sign of hope. Because in that moment, I didn’t feel so alone.
It’s ok, that rainbow was saying. I’m still here. One way or another, I’m still here.
I never thought that I would feel a slight pang of hope again so soon after Evalyn’s passing. It was fleeting, but it was there, edging to break through and show me that in the weeks, months and years to come, life may begin to ache a little less.
That rainbow wasn’t the last rainbow either.
On the 19th November, we took my son to the skatepark. We tried to keep life as normal as possible for him. An hour at the skatepark seemed like a good way to keep him occupied.
As soon as we pulled into the car park, it rained. We decided to sit and ‘wait it out’ but it soon became apparent that the storm clouds weren’t moving. Ieuan had demanded we listen to the Trolls film soundtrack, and as the song True Colours began to play, another rainbow appeared in the sky. I still look back and think what a poignant moment that was and how life’s timing could not have been more perfect.
The 22nd November would have been Evalyn’s due date. That day became the rainbow ‘Grande Finale’. On this day, I wrote in my diary:
“How many times over the past nine months have I wished to magically reach this date? Now I just wish that I could go back a few weeks and somehow make everything right.
Somewhere in a parallel universe, me and Nick would’ve woken up today full of excitement and I probably would’ve spent the whole day walking around the house questioning every ache and twinge. Instead, we woke up to rain hammering hard against our window pane and a sadness in our hearts.
. . . . We spent most of the day trying to find distractions. This involved us getting into our car and driving to do the last of our Christmas shopping even though Christmas is literally the last thing on our minds. . . . .
Do you know what we saw?
Five little ‘Evalyn’ rainbows!!
I have never seen so many rainbows in one day! I’m not sure I have ever seen so many rainbows in two weeks as I’ve seen since the 8th November. Those bright colours against the grey backdrop show us hope. They show me that Evalyn, in her own little way, is still here.”
Last November was the month I found hope in rainbows. Was it a sign from Evalyn? I guess it depends on what you believe. We played the song True Colours at her funeral and read the poem Look For Me In Rainbows. Somehow that brought us a little comfort on a hard day.
I am not naive. But I am open-minded. I know that I was not the only one who saw all of those rainbows. Many other eyes gazed to the sky on those occasions, many children squealed gleefully at the sight of them and perhaps there were others like myself who seeked comfort in them, silently thinking that one’s just for me.
What I do know is this.
I notice rainbows now. And when my son, Ieuan, gets excited by those colours in the sky and exclaims, Look, mum! LOOK! before asking Where do rainbows come from? I know that there is only one answer that I can possibly give him.
“I like to think that when a rainbow shines, that is Evalyn saying hello in her own little way,” I tell him.
Maybe I’m wrong. But having hope is not about being wrong. Hope is about finding something, anything, that helps us carry on through our darkest hours. I found my hope in rainbows.
“You know what, mum?” Ieuan replies with a little smile, “I think you’re right.”