Have you heard of the term “rainbow baby”? It’s official definition is this…
A rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. This term is given to these special rainbow babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come.
…but I would extend that definition to the birth of a baby born after the loss of a child at any age.
I shared about rainbow babies before on Rudy’s Beat back in 2012. It’s kind of shocking to read that post now and reflect on the number of kids that have passed since Katie, Josiah and Logan…we can now add Daisy, Gwendolyn, Moriah and Rudy to that list. 😦 And we’ve watched every one of these families go on to have their rainbow after the storm…some of the babies were planned and some were a surprise but in every case, it’s been an amazing joy to watch these families experience the birth of another child and the renewal that comes with it…although the memory of all our lost friends will never fade, watching their brothers and sisters arrive over the years, even from a distance, and sharing in the joy of their existence, even from a distance, has been a sweet breath of fresh air in the midst of so much loss and pain for so many.
It did cross my mind from time to time that given my age when I had Rudy, if anything ever happened to him, it would be highly unlikely that our family would experience the blessing of a rainbow baby. I didn’t dwell on it but, I admit, it did make the thought of losing Rudy more threatening. If we lost him, that would be it! But then again, maybe our rainbow would come in the form of an adoption or maybe that breath of fresh air would come with grandchildren down the line. (Ok, maybe I did dwell on it a bit!) The point is, I was catching a vision for rainbows in the life of our family to come in a variety of ways.
Some good friends of ours were expecting their first baby last spring and looking ahead to their childcare options. I felt compelled to offer my services…they needed the help and I thought it would be good for Rudy to be the “big guy” for a change and learn to care for others so the arrangement had the potential to be a “win for win” for all of us. Rudy died 10 days after our new friend, Levi, was born. Even in the days that followed Rudy’s passing, I felt strongly that I needed to honor my childcare commitment. As I prayed about it, I wondered if little Levi might end up being a unique rainbow baby in my journey through grief and part of my healing process…seemed logical. Then came ALS and it was clear that I had to let go of Levi too.
I think I’ve been looking for/longing for that darn rainbow ever since. If ALS wasn’t in the picture, I’m certain I’d be able to identify my rainbow but options for that breath of fresh air, that sense of renewal, the hope of what’s to come seem really, really limited right now…figuratively AND literally! I couldn’t have ever predicted, in all those times I thought about losing Rudy and fretted over what that would mean for our future/my future, that the storm would gain momentum after Rudy’s death, that I would have to ride it out for the rest of my life and…not see the rainbow once the storm ended. It still boggles my mind. I think it will boggle my mind until the day I die. I’ll keep writing about it, though…I’ll come at it from all different angles…I’ll try to make sense of it because my mind is wired that way…but I guess my hope is that in the process of trying to do the impossible, I’ll land on some helpful insights that can be understood in this lifetime and will, even for a split second, be a breath of fresh air for a weary, storm-weathered soul.
My friend Scott has been helping me transfer all the cassette tapes some friends and I recorded 25+ years ago to digital copies. He emailed me another batch this morning that included a lullaby I wrote when my now almost 28 year old niece was born. Seems kind of fitting to reintroduce it here with all this talk of babies…:)
Timeless Love of Christ (with Grace VanNortwick)