There has been something so familiar about this past year. Even though having twins is very different than having a single baby, the flow and seasons of this year have matched those of Jonah's year with us. Jonah was born on the 14th of July and our twins were born on the 22nd, five years and one week apart. As a result, every milestone and every "first" has followed a similar chronology.
Jonah's first smiles came in the fall and this year as the leaves fell Simon and Clara started to smile. In the winter Jonah began to roll and scoot and Simon and Clara followed his example. This spring Simon and Clara ventured outside and explored the grass and leaves and tried to eat them, and as I watched them I thought about Jonah tasting rocks and dirt and crawling through the grass. And summer...summer is by far the sweetest: playing in the water, swinging, exploring the neighborhood, climbing, walking, and celebrating first birthdays. It's all the same. When I hold Simon next to me and feel his weight and the way he turns to direct me through the world I think of Jonah. When Clara squeals in delight as she gets in the bath and splashes water all over her face but doesn't seem to care, I think of him. I see him in every moment I share with his brother and sister. In a way it is so comforting and beautiful, and it also scares me.
I am constantly reminded that we only had one year with Jonah; We had one Halloween, one Christmas, one birthday.
We celebrated the twins' birthday last week and even that echoed the experience of their brother. We played in the yard with grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and cousins. It was a hot afternoon, even in the shade of our giant walnut tree. The air smelled the same - a combination of heat, and wind, horses, and grass. We played in the water to cool down, ate fried chicken, opened presents, and watched excitedly as Simon and Clara approached their first cupcake with caution followed by full bodied appreciation.
When I think about Jonah's birthday I think about what I didn't know. When Jonah turned one we didn't know that we would only have two more months with him. We didn't know that a small fruit snack could take the life of our precious boy. We didn't know that he would leave our family and in his absence a crushing sorrow would emerge.
Sometimes I wonder what I don't know now.
As we celebrated together I thought about time passing or rather marching, marching toward September. There is something in the familiarity and passage of time that makes me feel like I'm headed towards the same experience. I realize that August and September were the last months I had with Jonah, and I wonder what the future holds. It is a hard feeling to shake.
The weather at Simon and Clara's party was bizarre. One moment it was blazing hot, followed by a swift thunderstorm, then giant raindrops, and back to scorching heat. Those who attended moved quickly between the shade of trees, the shelter of our garage, the warmth of the sun, and the protection of patio umbrellas. It rained on our chicken and cupcakes and presents. My mom mentioned that she was looking for a rainbow, but none appeared. The sky only held black rain clouds or blinding sunshine.
At the end of the party the showers drifted towards the mountains and the sun was lower against the western sky. As we cleaned up and said our goodbyes I looked towards the east, past the large pine tree in our yard. I looked towards the same patch of sky on the day of Jonah's funeral, when the weather was identical: hot, then stormy, then peaceful. That day two rainbows appeared like a message from heaven and temporarily calmed my troubled heart.
In this moment, just above the mountain a faint rainbow appeared, peeking through, as if not wanting to steal away our attention. I stood on my patio and watched Simon and Clara playing with their cousins under the shelter of the pine, unaware of the beautiful rainbow above them. I thought of Jonah and my heart hurt and soared at the same time. The women I love gathered around me on the hot cement and looked toward the sky. It seemed clear that they knew what I knew. We simply said "Jonah." "He came." And we believed it was true.
Rainbows are symbols. They are symbols of promises and peace and freedom and love. They are symbols of a protecting hand. The two rainbows I saw on the day we said goodbye to Jonah felt like a promise that God knew my pain and that someday things would feel right again. And even though that seemed impossible at the time, it was true. Our lives feel good and whole again.
This rainbow felt like a different promise, a promise that Jonah was still a part of our family, and that there would be many happy days ahead. I felt overwhelming gratitude for such a simple but profound moment, looked up to the heavens, and believed it was true.
Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith. - Thomas S. Monson