“You can’t have a rainbow without a little bit of rain.”
On Tuesday morning this past week, at exactly 7:32 a.m., I pulled into the parking lot of my son’s elementary school. We found a parking spot and proceeded to unload the contents of our car: a suitcase, a sleeping bag and a backpack. In the crisp morning air, we joined other 4th grade students and their parents bringing similar contents to a van parked in front of the school. We were all there to drop our children off for outdoor school–back in my day simply called, “camp”–and I don’t know about the other children present, but this was my son’s first time away from home without me. We’ll just skip the part where I shed more than a few tears before he and I even left the house…
Rushing to get Julian to school that morning, I had a strong flashback to the first time I’d taken my son to a day camp at the very same location where he’d be doing his outdoor school. It was six years ago, he was four-years-old at the time, and our family was drowning in a dark place, having just lost three children within less than a year’s time. Camps at this particular location go on rain or shine, and, believe me when I say that, on that day? Six years ago? There was absolutely no shine in site, not in my heart, and not in the sky. And as I drove him to camp that day, it was clear that we were experiencing the type of rain that soaks through rain coats.
From July 20, 2012…
“Okay, babe,” I said to the hooded bundle in the backseat once we arrived at Julian’s camp. “I’ll come around and open the door for you, then we’ll run down the trails as fast as we can until we make it to the Welcome Center where it will be warm and dry. Alright?”
There was no response from the backseat. Just the blinking of big blue eyes peeking out at me from the opening of a black hood.
Ignoring my son’s lack of enthusiasm, I braced myself and pushed out into the rain, running to the other side of the car to yank Julian’s car door open. When he didn’t move–“Come on! Mama’s getting wet!”–I finally reached in to pull him out.
Rushing him to the trails that led to his camp, I was disappointed when the tall trees of the wooded area failed to provide the shelter from the rain that I’d anticipated. My disappointment quickly turned to irritation, however, when Julian, who normally runs up ahead of me on any path that we walk, lagged behind, moving slower than a snail.
“Pick up the pace, please! We’ve got a long way to walk yet!”
And, so it went. I prodded and begged Julian to speed things up, while he continued to walk slower and slower, eventually tiptoeing around puddles as though they were made of quicksand. Halfway there, he stopped completely, only to stare up at the big drops of rain falling on his face.
“Julian!” I hollered. “What are you doing?”
His eyes dropped to my face, paused there, then quickly shot back up to the sky. And like a thick blanket, I felt an intense weight come over me.
“Did you feel that?” I whispered, more to myself than to him. “Did you feel the heaviness that just came down from the sky?”
Sensing my angel babies somewhere in the storm, I closed my eyes and let their presence surround me, absorbing the calm hush that came with it. How long did I stand there, the raindrops mixing in with my tears?
When I finally opened my eyes again, I found that my son, Julian, hadn’t moved. Surrendering, I walked over to his side, gently wiped the raindrops off his face, and then took his hand in mine. Slowly, without speaking, we moved forward to the promise of a covered shelter ahead.
Because, what was the hurry? We were already wet.
Photos on Visualhunt.com.