I love storms. The increasingly gusty wind that precedes the rain ushers in the ominous clouds on the horizon. Like a sea of soldiers coming down an embankment, they make their presence known–and are instantly respected. As they roll across the sky, the sun rays are stifled one-by-one. The blue sky turns dark, sometimes swirled with hues of navy, gray, green, and even odd yellowish glows. What promises to follow is exciting. The first few wet drops splatter on the windows, announcing that you should probably close them unless you want the carpets to be drenched. As the clouds release their tension, the heavens open. And when the saturating rain diminishes, what is left is a soft dampness, a new coolness, and a few brave frogs who have emerged from clever hiding places.
Occasionally, the storm brings with it an unusual severity that can heighten the exhilaration while simultaneously arousing fear. Darkly colored skies turn nearly black. Lightning flashes close enough for one to see a tree split and fall in a humbling display of submission. Hail the size of golf balls dings the hoods of each car unlucky enough to be parked outside. Flooding rages: first as streams in the roadside ditches, then as lakes across the sidewalks, and ultimately as wild rivers down streets taking with it every object not attached to the Earth. Towed away by a force unknown in our everyday lives, the waves of water buoy us, take away our strength, and obligate us to obey its whims. Sirens blare loudly as people scramble to safety: to basements if they’re lucky, under tables if they’re not. Often described as the sound of a speeding locomotive, a tornado can rip up any object–rooted or not–in its path: homes shredded, cars sent miles away, people crushed by trees.
For a rainbow to occur, events needs to overlap. The water particles need to linger in the air, the more the better. The sun needs to break through the clouds, bursting its glorious light through the water-saturated atmosphere. While the daylight always finds its way back to Earth after a storm, it does not always do so in the timing that is necessary. Often the clouds linger, the moisture dries, and while the storm weakens and moves on across the sky, the sun cannot find its strength to burn through and refract its glorious rays. But on those occasions when the sun wedges its way through even the smallest of cracks and shines straight through each minuscule water droplet, we can see the true beauty of the light. The rays bend and display the colors hidden brilliantly within the ordinary light. It is only then that we see the elegance of what is always there.
When we learned our daughter Sophia would not survive long past her birth, the threatening clouds were brewing. When she was born alive but barely clinging to life, the rain burst and drenched our souls with grief and tears. When we watched her take her final shallow breath, the deafening tornado swept through our hearts, tearing them to shreds, and leaving devastation in its wake. When we lost the second and third pregnancies, the storm raged on. Flooded roads whisked us down a path of despair, hopelessness, and sadness. Our world was knocked on end, dented and dinged beyond recognition. Surrounded by a life now ravaged by vehement forces far beyond our control, all we could do was sit back and wait to repair the damage.
The light first peeked through the moment my fourth pregnancy began. Trepidation continued to walk the path with us; however, this time felt different. With each passing day, a new ray burst through the darkness that hung over us. Despite many discouraging tests results, and even more discouraging words from skeptical doctors, the pregnancy carried on. The sun rays pushed aside the dark gray and replaced it with a softer blue. The rain that hung heavily in the air began to evaporate, but not before the sun rays bounced off each bead of water. As we approached our daughter’s impending birth day, the light won some battles, and lost others. Some days, the clouds filtered back in, dropping its wet misery over our optimism. Other days, the clouds could not stand a chance against the good news about her health, the enthusiasm we found from within ourselves and from loved ones, and the cheery disposition of the bright sun.
When our daughter was born, the clouds broke. They struggled to reclaim their hold: she was born two months early, she needed to spend five weeks in the NICU, and she had many medical issues to overcome. But in the end, the light was too determined. Each day she grew stronger was a day our rainbow could shine brighter. The colors took hold, becoming richer in hue. Each arch of the rainbow showed its gratifying pride.
In the end, we have our rainbow baby for which we are forever grateful, but I still love a good storm. I still love the path we took to get to the rainbow. Fighting the worst of storms left us with more than just a rainbow baby; we have a journey filled with four babies whom we love. We have been dinged, damaged, beaten down, washed away, and nearly destroyed. But here we are. We stand amongst the damage that we understand is our destiny. As something that can be so destructive, it can also create the most favorable foundations for our souls. It brought us strength, courage, hope, ultimate happiness–and in the end–life.