The Rainbow Bridge

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If pure love could be symbolized with a form of light, I’m sure it would be a rainbow.

From the very young to the not so young and everyone in-between, the sight of the rainbow’s vivid bands bring forth a flood of pure happiness. The fleeting seven bands of light bridging the heavens to Earth carry with them a message of love and hope that splashes all around us and flows into our hearts.

When folks see a rainbow, they stop what they are doing, look towards the heavens and smile. For that moment, for that single moment in time, we all are children once again. For that one moment, all troubles, no matter how grave, are forgotten.

Such was the case for The Wife and me last weekend. The troubles we were facing were the gravest of grave.

Our trip to Florida wasn’t because of a letter received in the mail or a text message written in haste or even a frantic phone call for help. The urgency of our unscheduled trip came from a voice in my head.

Some may call it a conscience. To others, it’s a nuisance. To me, it’s a welcome friend that I call Fred. He’s the faint voice I sometimes hear in my head, and he’s been with me since growing up a long, long time ago on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize whenever Fred says I should do something and I don’t, things turn out badly. And when they do, I hear his voice once again whispering, “Told ya. Should’ve listened.”

Last weekend Fred wasn’t a faint little voice anymore. He was screaming for me to do something. I listened. And I will forever be grateful that I did.

Dark clouds had started to gather as we hastily packed suitcases. Not knowing what we were about to face, The Wife thought we should take two. Better to over-pack than under. The Wife – a voice that I’ve had the fortune to be married to now 18 years today and a voice I always listen to.

But the celebration of our anniversary would have to be placed on hold for a while. There was a much more dire situation in Florida we had to get to.

As we made it to the car, the dark clouds thickened as the temperature started to drop. The storm would follow us all the way across state lines and to our final destination: a hospital and the dimly lit hospice care room at the end of a lonely hallway.

The growing storm would be larger and more turbulent than either of us could ever imagine. By the end of that day, the fury and sheer weight of it would drive me to my knees weeping.

Hours spent sitting next to a loved one who’s lying in bed unable to move, open their eyes or even acknowledge your presence are never lost hours. They have a purpose. Both doctors and nurses will say when all other senses are gone, the ability to hear still remains. And so does the ability to say goodbye to someone you’ve known your entire life.

After one of the longest days in our lives, we checked into our room overlooking the ocean. That night, the biggest storm of my life hit as sleep eluded my grasp.

Early the next morning, all evidence of the previous night’s storm was gone. The ocean outside was once again a peaceful emerald green. We took an early morning walk on the beach. We walked in silence — alone with our thoughts. With our hands intertwined, the waves lapped at our ankles and the receding sand tickled our feet as the surf pulled it out from beneath our feet.

Both distraught and still sapped from the previous days visit to hospice, we suddenly stopped our walk and looked towards the heavens for answers. The answers soon came.

Not one rainbow appeared, but two. The first outshone the second, but as we watched, both reached from the heavens down to the ocean. The symbolism wasn’t lost on either of us, and we knew they had finally come.

The brightest, more vibrant of the two was my mom, his wife of over 33 years. The smaller one was older Brother Richard, the only son they had lost and the reason we left Flamingo over 50 years ago. They were bridging his way back to them.

It has been said that you actually die twice. The first time is when your physical body can no longer sustain life. The second is when the last person alive speaks your name.

Dad will live on through all the stories from those seven magical years my three brothers, The Sister and I spent growing up on Flamingo. Now, those years and those stories are more magical and special to me than ever before.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]