What’s with all the rainbows?

As you probably now know, our middle son, Sam, died unexpectedly in October of 2013. Unless you are a family member, you don’t know that one the day Sam was born in 1993, there were rainbows everywhere in Addison County. We didn’t see them because we were in the hospital after a very difficult birth, and Sam was struggling. But family members and friends commented on how beautiful they were, and how the universe was clearly celebrating his birth.

Fast forward to the deepest hell any family can go through, the death of a child. We barely survived those first days, moving through the logistics feeling like we were drowning. Constantly surrounded by people, the door constantly opening and closing, the phone ringing off the hook.

On the Sunday following Sam’s death, we held a celebration of life in our town meeting house. It was full of love, joy, memories, tears, heartbreak and thanksgiving. But when it was over, that night, there was almost a vacuum sucking sound as everyone went home, went back to their “normal” lives, when we already recognized we would never get to have a normal life again.

The next day, we got up, and our youngest went off to school, hungry for a sense of schedule again. I was walking from the kitchen area to the garage, when I happened to look out the window to see this:

996611_598116806911478_1748770497_n I yelled to my husband, and he joined me on the deck. From where we stood, on this bright and sunny day, there was no rational explanation for a rainbow. But there one was, and from our vantage point, it was like it was emanating from the cemetery where he’d been buried. The absolute shock and wonder took our breath away.

We weren’t the only ones who saw the rainbows that day, and all described them as looking like they were coming from the area of the cemetery.

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Over the next weeks and months, Sam’s friends and family began to recognize the strange timing and placement of rainbows. There were rainbows on his birthday, on the anniversary of his death, when family members were in pictures rainbows could be seen only in the photos. There were rainbows on sunny days, no storms around. There were rainbows strangely “hanging” in the clouds. And slowly, a collection of photos of Sam’s rainbows grew.

Several of my favorites have to do with family:

The first was his brothers and dad doing a Mother’s Day garden for me, and in the photo, it looks like they are showered with rainbows. The second is in Scotland, at a site he had so wanted to visit, and when we looked at the photo a week after it was taken, we have a rainbow across us.

And just last week, as we traveled to see someone very close to Sam, another strange rainbow appeared in a bright and clear sky:

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But, my ultimate favorite was from a concert last summer. Sam loved the band Twiddle with all his heart, and their big festival last year happened to fall on his birthday — he would have been certain it was to honor him. It was a clear, sunny day, and suddenly, we all saw this:

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So, I can’t saw with scientific certainty that Sam is messing with rainbows. But I can say that rainbows have an amazing way of appearing on days when there is a huge significance, and they bring us joy and peace.

That’s why I post so many rainbow pictures.

The “Blurb” for The Phone Call

One of the fun parts of the whole process of moving toward publication was writing the “blurb” for The Phone Call:

Kat meets Alex during Christmas break, her senior year of college. After a romantic night at the opera, the attraction between them is palpable, but both know that the timing is not right. They exchange numbers and promise to stay in touch, but events out of their control leave them both waiting on a call that will never come. When fate seems to deal them a second chance, they must trust in each other to make their relationship work. A secret from Kat’s past threatens to destroy their newfound love. Is she strong enough to tell Alex the truth? Will he understand and accept it if she does?

The “Story Brain”

Earlier this week, I commented that while I was busy doing some of the logistics for publishing, my “story brain” seemed to take a break. Normally, my characters run around my brain in a glorious parade of sights, sounds, colors, sensations and conversations. When they seemed to be on vacation for a couple days, it was a very odd and quiet time for me. Suddenly, they have come roaring back, along with the basic pieces of the sequel to Keeping Away.  Now, it’s a rush to see how quickly I can type!

Thank you to the guy with the gorgeous tiara!

As our trip to NYC wound down, and we were walking back to the bus station all in a bit of a bad mood after the hotel had no hot water this morning, we passed a 30-something year old man walking holding hands with both a woman and a little girl. He was wearing a gorgeous, large, sparkly tiara as he walked down 8th Avenue. That image made me laugh, but also reminded me of the absolute gold mine of images and bits of conversation for future writings. Why was he wearing a tiara? What was the back story? I have a feeling he will reappear later on in a story.

Love, just plain love.

Yup, I admit it, I love to write romances. Yes, I’m also writing a memoir about love and loss and grief. But today, my day has just been about love. Pure, simple, uncomplicated, deeper than our bones love. We’ve been away on a little family vacation, to see a member of our non-blood family perform. One of the things we learned after the loss of our son is that some of our friends are more family to us than some blood relatives. Today, we were blessed to spend time with one of them. We saw a great performance, got completely soaked in the pouring rain, took a really long walk, and talked and talked and talked. It was a day dedicated to the power of unconditional love — to quote the band Twiddle, it was an example of “loving relentlessly,” and how lucky we are to have such relationships in our lives!

When you can’t find your gratitude in the garlic…

As I mentioned in the “about me” page, I have been writing a memoir about the loss of our middle son, Sam, and my journey in grief. For me, and for my husband, garlic has a huge role in our grief process, and through the garlic, we started to heal.

This is our son Sam, who died in 2013.

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Sam loved farming. He worked for the last six months of his life on a near-by farm, and he was happier than we’d ever seen him. When he died in October of that year, we decorated the meeting house for his celebration of life with garlic and hot pepper plants and squash that he had helped grow.

The week following his death, we tried to just survive. Remembering to breathe, eat and keep hydrated was almost impossible. Finally, we realized we had the basket of garlic that he had helped grow left on the table. We decided to plant that garlic, to keep it going for Sam. We had tried to grow garlic before, with no success. But, with the deep-down sense that this was one way in which we could keep something that had mattered to Sam alive, we set out to learn how to grow garlic.

 

We separated the cloves, made wooden boxes, filled them with soil, made a guide for planting, planted them, covered them with soil, then mulched them. As we worked in the October sunshine that fall, we talked about Sam. We cried, we laughed, we talked to him, we talked to the cloves. Then, as much as we had such anger at a God that had allowed him to be taken from us, we prayed to the universe that the garlic would grow. Sam’s hands had touched that garlic — if it grew, we were somehow keeping his spirit alive.

All that winter we walked the garlic beds. When the garlic came up in the Spring, we celebrated.  Then we harvested it.

 

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After we harvested it, we then kept half to plant again that fall. Each October, around the anniversary of Sam’s death, we plant garlic again from his garlic. We repeat the process of planting, talking to him, talking about him, and begging the universe for another crop of his garlic.

This spring, the garlic was the most beautiful and healthy we’d ever grown. You can just see the greens on the left of the fence.

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And we celebrated — this would be the best harvest yet. Then, this past week, tragedy struck.

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Our beautiful, proud, tall garlic was smashed flat. One of our alpacas, Marc, had gotten out of his pasture, marched through the fence, and rolled and rolled and rolled in the garlic. The pain, sadness, anger, heartbreak on seeing that garlic smashed flat is almost indescribable. It isn’t the garlic, it’s that this is Sam’s garlic, and we hadn’t been able to protect it, just as we hadn’t been able to protect Sam. I know, if you haven’t lived through the hell of losing a child, that may seem like a silly thing to say, but if you have lost one, you understand what I mean.

Today, I trimmed the garlic. With tears running down my cheeks, I cut the scapes, saving them for pesto. Then I righted the stalks I could, and begged the universe to still give us a good harvest so we can keep Sam’s garlic going.

So, for much of the process, I couldn’t find gratitude for much of anything. I was too hurt, angry and sad to be thankful. But, finally, as I cleaned the scapes, and the entire kitchen filled with their scent, I could again be thankful for the ups and downs of watching Sam’s plants grow.

Wow!

Over the last few nights, as I have completed the necessary forms for the publisher, taken the dreaded author’s photo, talked about cover images, and worked on the all important acknowledgements and dedication, it’s beginning to feel real. Really, really exciting, but now becoming more internalized.

The funny thing is that as my mind has taken care of those details, I’ve had very little time to write otherwise, and for these couple days, my “story brain” seems to have taken a bit of a vacation. I’m sure once the dust settles a bit, those characters will return from whatever fictional beach they are on right now to push me back to writing their story.