The first notes of the song wash over me as I lay in a hip-opening posture during an online yoga class. It’s funny, because I was already feeling tears come before the song started- but as the familiar opening lyrics begin “When it rains, it pours…”, giant tears start leaking onto my yoga mat, turning spots of bright aqua into a deep teal. This song by Kacey Musgraves, “Rainbow”, is the first song we chose to play during the photo slideshow at Miles’ memorial. I have been drawn to the song since I first heard it, and when we knew Miles was going to die, I started singing it to him. The song has become his, and it can literally bring me to my knees.
My favourite movie as a kid was “The Wizard of Oz”. I would spend hours re-watching the black-and-white scene where Dorothy sings “Over the Rainbow”. The depth of the lyrics was lost on me as a child, but as an adult, I recognize the loneliness and longing this song and scene captured so beautifully. Rainbows represent the hope of a world beyond pain, where “troubles melt like lemon drops”, and as a child, I believed strongly in this idyllic world.
“If you could see what I see, you’d be blinded by the colours…”.
Women who have miscarried often call their first baby after a loss a “rainbow baby”. Since I have never miscarried, I never felt like I could claim Miles as our rainbow baby, but to me, he was. He represented the bliss on the other side of pain and struggle, and the hope that better times were ahead. When he was born, it was blue skies, and all the colours in my world indeed seemed brighter. The struggles we faced in trying to conceive and some of the other misfortunes we had faced (although they pale in comparison to what was to come) faded into the background and felt like another life- an old skin we had finally shed to realize our future.
“It’s hard to breathe when all you know is the struggle of stayin’ above the risin’ water line…”
When we got Miles’ cancer diagnosis, I could feel the rainbow slipping through my fingers. I knew that there was a chance he would survive, but I also knew there was a big chance he wouldn’t. The blissful world I knew started to shift beneath my feet. I remember a conversation with my counsellor once his chemo and surgery were finished, in the 3-month period of absolute perfection before we found out his cancer had metastasized. I kept telling her about a recurring nightmare/daymare during which I found myself writing his eulogy. I couldn’t trust that we had beaten his cancer, and I think on some deep, instinctual level I was preparing myself for losing him.
“.. darlin’ I’m just trying to tell ya that there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head…”
The rainbow surrounded him, and us, while he was alive. The shitstorm didn’t matter as long as we had him, and had hope. When we heard the words fall from the doctor’s lips that he was going to die, I felt the rainbow fracture, and shards of bright light shattered behind my eyes. The day he died, my world went back to black and white.
“… it’ll all be alright…”
In the months since he’s passed, I’ve begun to see small glimmers of colour. In Kent’s eyes when he’s telling a joke, or in my best friend’s lips as I watch her kiss the heads of her newborn twins. Some days, I want to write off hope, and resign myself to living in black and white, with a few colours here and there. But the Dorothy in me- in all of us- has to believe in rainbows. Hope for something better and brighter is all we have. The memory of Miles, my rainbow boy, is a reminder that full colour does exist, and that it’s worth sticking around for.