Monday, January 21, 2013

Finding Rainbows

I've been in the widowed world long enough to know that some people believe in signs and some people don't.  For me, personally, believing in signs from my husband isn't really all that far off from how I lived my life before he died.  That's because I've always be somewhat superstitious and have had a firm belief that there are larger powers at work in my life.  I like reading my horoscope, making wishes when all of the numbers on a digital clock are the same, and looking for signs that I'm on the right path.

It doesn't bother me that other people might not believe in signs, just as I hope it doesn't bother others that I do.  And since my husband's been gone, I have looked harder than ever for those clues, those confirmations that someone is out there encouraging me and trying to show it.  Whether you believe or not, it's nice to think that you will always have someone on your side.

(For the non-believers out there - yes, my therapist knows this about me and since I'm typing this, she obviously hasn't put in that prescription for the straight jacket.  Yet.)

The last month or so has had me going through a lot of transition:  A break-up, a holiday season when I finally felt joy after 6 Christmases in misery (a good transition), and other things that have had me looking for signs from my husband to either let me know that, yes, I was making the right decision or at the very least...that he was on my side if I wasn't.

Right after Christmas, I was contemplating buying a new car, something that I needed but also something I knew I would have a hard time with.  You see, I had two cars that I was planning on trading in:  a minivan that my husband had surprised me with almost 10 years earlier that was slowly starting to fall apart and a little sports car that I had purchased just months after he died in the throes of my Retail Therapy phase.  To purchase the new car, I would have to trade in both and even though my head knew that it was time, my heart wasn't quite so sure.

The night before my appointment with the car dealership, I lay awake in my bed, staring at the ceiling in the dark saying over and over, "Just let me know if you think I'm doing the right thing.  Just give me a sign that it's time to do this."

And the next morning...I got it.

I was leaving the house in the minivan and all of the kids so that I could drop them off at my parents' house and bring the car to the dealership so they could begin evaluating it while I got the other car.  And as I started to make the turn off of my street, I looked up.  And there was a fraction of a rainbow just sitting on a cloud.

I've never seen a rainbow in the winter.  And that's not to say they don't happen - maybe I just haven't been paying attention.  But I sat there at that stop sign and just stared until my oldest daughter said, "Mom!  Are you going to go?"

I slowly put my foot on the gas and as I did, the song "Life is a Highway" - a song that has special meaning for me when it comes to my husband - came on the radio.

"Wow," said my daughter.  "We haven't heard this song in a long time."

And suddenly I knew that everything would be okay.

About a week later, I needed another sign, but frankly at that point I felt like I was getting a little greedy.  Some personal turmoil was forcing me to make some hard decisions and making me feel more alone than I had in a long time.  Again, I found myself staring at my ceiling in the dark and begging quietly, "Just tell me it will be okay.  Tell me it will be okay."

The next morning, I woke up and wished my youngest daughter a happy 7th birthday, my body dragging with exhaustion and fear of the future.  She and I dropped both of her older siblings off at school for before school activities and then I said to her, "You know what?  We have a little time to kill.  Let's go pick up your birthday cake before school."

We went into the store and bought a cake with pink frosting (that I would later find out was bubblegum flavored.  Whoever thought of that idea should probably quit baking and find another vocation).  And as we were leaving the store I looked up.  And there was that rainbow again.

I didn't say anything to my daughter and I don't know if she heard my sigh of relief.  But then I heard her little voice say, "Mom!  Look!  A rainbow!"

"Isn't it pretty?" I said brightly as we walked through the parking lot.

"You know what?  I bet that's Daddy telling me 'Happy Birthday!'"

Gulp.  "I bet you're right."

I guess signs are different for all of us and can mean many different things.  That morning, I looked up and thought my husband was saying, "You can do this.  I'm here.  You can do this."  But when my daughter saw that winter rainbow she knew that it was her daddy wishing her a happy birthday the best way he knew how.

The best part?

I think we were both right.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kim. Coming from you, that means a LOT.

  2. Oh my gosh! I don't know if you read these comments but I hope you do. I am also a widow, and Sunday was my husband's 42nd birthday. His fifth in Heaven. So, about a year ago a friend told me to pray for a sign from him that he was ok. I never did. I couldn't. I was still very angry. Too angry to pray. (My husband took his own life.) So, as this birthday approached, for the first time ever, I decided to turn it into a positive thing. My daughter's and I planned our first "20 on the 20th"...we would complete 20 acts of kindness on the 20th...his birthday. Also, since last year, we have FINALLY found a church where we all feel comfortable and we love it. (That is an important piece)
    So as his birthday approacehd we finalized our list of things to do and I started thinking, not praying yet, but thinking, maybe he will send us a sign? Maybe.
    Well, I will summarize the signs...first one is our new pastor has the same birthday as he does but I did not know until I woke up and saw it on Facebook. Of course we made cards and already had treats planned. Second...making breakfast Sunday morning I felt someone watching me. I look up and there sits the most beautiful, brightest, bluest bluebird I have ever seen. He was sitting on the railing of our deck looking at me. The girls ran over and we all ooed and ahhed...then off he went. Later, I researched what kind of bird he was. He was just a regular Virginia bluebird that does not migrate. (we have snow now) BUT...the description said this "the only way to describe the blue of this bird is to say it is the color of blue you will see when entering heaven..." Ummm..ok so if that is not a sign girlfriend I don't believe there is such a thing! post this...about signs. You are the only blog I follow. We are so similar it freaks me out. WOW. So THREE signs. Three signs from him? I don't know but I am giving him the bird....that was his sign. I think I am right too! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I always say that it's hard to explain how you know for sure that you're getting signs - people have to experience it for themselves. Sounds like someone is trying to tell you something.

      I'm glad I could be a part of your signs. ;>)

  3. Nice that in the world of signs, you can both be right. Thanks for your truthful and heart-opening words.
    My husband died in 2008. I feel him everywhere on our land where I still live, but when I need support, he often shows up in a dream. In the months after his death, I dreamed of him two or three times a week. Now there can be months without him appearing in a dream. But last week as I finished a major writing project and walked away from some old baggage, his dream body appeared to walk beside me, making me feel it was OK to leave something behind and move forward toward I know not what. His strong arm encircled my waist and my arm wrapped around his. I smelled him and felt his warmth. When I woke up, I didn't want to move. Just wanted to feel his presence and his affirmation. And then the day unfolded, with me remembering that I get to keep the love even if I've lost his body.
    Thank you for letting me feel this all over again.
    Elaine Mansfield

  4. Why do I always second guess the signs? It has only been six months and I pray for signs... If I knew he was here by my side I could just keep moving forward. On my twelve year old son's first football game there was a rainbow over the stadium, while helping my mother in law look through our pictures for my husband's slideshow I found a picture of a double rainbow we had taken at some point. My three year old also believes her daddy sends her rainbows and pink sunset clouds because he loves and misses her. Why don't I trust that these are signs? I guess I want a post card from Heaven. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.