WE ALL heard the story. God showed Noah a rainbow after the great flood. It was a symbol of His promise. Never again… He said. Who doesn’t love a promise to be spared from struggle, burden, or pain? And so since then, we all grew up chasing rainbows. We become children again whenever we see one. We even try to look for it in bubbles. That’s how desperate we have become for glances of this symbol of hope.
They call a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death a Rainbow Baby. The meaning is quite obvious. Losing a child is like being swept by the great flood. You just don’t lose a child. You lose all the dreams and joy that come with being parents. You become a widow when you lose a husband. You become an orphan when you lose your parents. But there’s no term to define a mother and father who loses a child. That’s just how miserable this experience is.
I lost a baby last year but was immediately blessed with my rainbow baby. But, imagine burying one child and giving birth to another in the same year. There was really no time to grieve. But guilt also stopped me from celebrating. My rainbow baby didn’t actually get the response typical for other rainbow babies. Rainbows are supposed to make us smile but I cried when I saw those two lines.
Maybe it was the word rainbow, but I really don’t recall how and when I started to adopt the song Rainbow Connection as my new baby’s official lullaby. Nine months into this motherhood journey, my daughter Andy can’t sleep to any other song but this. It’s like a password.
One day, while I was singing to her, for some reason, I got to hear the words clearly one by one. I recited the lyrics and I realized that this was not exactly a “happy” song fit for the bright cheeriness of rainbows. Was I lulling my child to cynicism?
“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side? Rainbows are visions but only illusions. And rainbows have nothing to hide…”
The magic of rainbows is debunked right there and then. Oh but indeed, rainbows are nothing but refractions of light that you can even create on your own. You just need some water in a shallow pan, a flashlight or sunlight, a white surface or piece of paper, and a mirror.
Can we manufacture hope? We created our own rainbow in Physics class back in high school using the materials I said earlier. It was small but visible enough for us to get a good score for the activity. But seeing it on a flat white wall doesn’t quite compare to catching one amidst the blue horizon while you’re stuck in traffic.
“Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star? Somebody thought of that and someone believed it, look what it’s done so far…”
When my daughter fought for her life against the congenital disease, my Bible-thumping friends always cheered “Claim the miracle! She will be healed in Jesus’s name!” But she still died. And at that very moment, I doubted if God really keeps His promises.
“What’s so amazing that keeps us star gazing and what do we think we might see?”
Ever since my tragedy, some churchy people have called me a backslider for being too angry – with God! They say, depression is a decision. But what they don’t know is that I have not let go of my faith. I may not be smiling but my eyes are still gazing out… I just don’t know what to expect in the horizon.
Kermit, the one who originally sang the song, was a frog in a swamp. The trees must have even shrouded his view of the sky. His rainbow could have only been a thin film that collected on top of the pooled water which is usually the result of natural oils released by decaying vegetation or the biological processes of anaerobic bacteria reducing iron in soil. I learned that on Discovery Channel.
Nevertheless, he continues to sing “All of us under its spell we know that it’s probably magic. Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices I’ve heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors? The voice might be one and the same. I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it. It’s something that I’m supposed to be…”
There are tales of sailors, desperately lost at sea, hearing a mermaid’s siren or a whale’s song that brought them out of the mist. While I was lost in the depth of my grief, there were many voices in my head but one kept me on my north – God.
“So we’ve been told and some Choose to believe it But I know they’re wrong wait and see. Someday we’ll find it – The Rainbow Connection – the lovers, the dreamers and me.”
Yes, the song does challenges the romance of rainbows but is that enough reason for me to change Andy’s lullaby? On the contrary, it reminds me not to talk down on my own child. It reminds9me to teach Andy that prayers are not magic; and that having faith is not always a hurrah moment. The painter Bob Ross once said: If you have light on light, you have nothing. If you have dark on dark, you basically have nothing. Just like in life. You gotta have a little sadness once in a while so you know when the good times come.
(Virgilind “Jill” Palarca graduated with honors at UP Diliman in 1999 and worked as an associate producer for MTV Asia and a writer for television and events before becoming an educator. She teaches Media and Information Literacy at the ADDU Senior High School. She is also a filmmaker and has won Best Screenplay at the 2014 Mindanao Film Festival.)
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