I was crying when I called my sister-in-law Carrie the other day. A couple of months ago, she made me a CD mix to get me through the toughest moments. The very first song is Katy Perry’s Fireworks. Carrie picked that one because she knows the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. And she loves the lyrics.
When I called her the other day, I said, through sniffles and sobs, “What if there’s only a hurricane for me, and no rainbow?”
Without hesitation, she said, “The rainbow is already out there, sweetie. You just can’t see it yet.”
She knew I was referring to these lyrics:
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
We talked a lot about that rainbow, the one that will appear after I make it through the hurricane-force winds that blew into my life following my Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis in January.
My fear, I told her, is that after the hurricane, there isn’t going to be a rainbow. Just devastation.
But Carrie won’t hear of this. She doesn’t tell me there’s a rainbow out there because it’s what she thinks I want to hear. She tells me this because she believes it to the very depths of her soul. Never, she says, has she been so certain of something.
This calmed me and after a few minutes, I was able to pull myself back together. I had to. Theo was at summer camp and it was time to go and pick him up.
As I was backing out of our driveway, our neighbor, Dave, walked up to my car. I rolled down the driver-side window, offered him a handful of Cheez-Its. He looked at me and said, “I saw you the other day. You weren’t looking very happy.”
We share a narrow, one-lane road with three other houses, a straight path that leads to the lake like a spoke on a wheel. It’s a private road, which means our mailboxes are at the end, where our street meets the service drive. So, getting the mail means a tenth of a mile trek to the end.
As I was scrolling through the moments when Dave might have observed me, I thought about a day last week when it was dreary and drizzling and I’d made the trek for the mail. The neighborhood was quiet; the kids inside doing puzzles or watching movies on a rainy summer day. A few tears on my cheeks could easily be mistaken for raindrops, should anyone cast a glance out the window.
I was just having a moment. And Dave, who has lived next door for the dozen years since we moved in, reads me well.
“You weren’t looking too happy when I saw you last week,” he said.
I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m afraid…” But I couldn’t finish. I waited a minute, then tried again.
“I’m afraid I’m going to die,” I said, this time staring straight at the steering wheel.
“You’re not going to die,” Dave said. “You’re going to outlive me.
“You have changed the way I think. You don’t realize how much you influence people, how what you say and do changes the way they think. That’s really powerful.”
I thought about that for a minute, trying to figure out what I do or say that makes that big of an impact. Then I took his words and deposited them into my heart.
Earlier in the day, I’d come across this little box filled with shark’s teeth at a gift shop. I thought of Theo and knew it’d be two bucks well spent. I gave it to him when I picked him up at camp. He was ecstatic and for the rest of the day; it was like nothing else existed save this little, tooth-filled clear plastic box.
Then the strangest thing happened. I was making dinner and Theo called me into the family room.
“Look, Mommy,” he said, pointing to the lid of his little box. “There’s a rainbow.”
Indeed there was. The plastic lid of this tiny box was acting as a prism to the light streaming in through the windows, reflecting the colors and shape of a rainbow. What were the chances, on this day, at this moment, in this way? If the conversation with Dave, the observation by Theo, are not Instant Messages from God, then what are they? Dave said my words and actions are powerful, but they pale in comparison to the messages coming from above.
Maybe all the doors closed so God could lead me to the perfect road.
And yes, I do believe there will be a rainbow.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson