“Think of me and smile” was one of my senior quotes. I’d forgotten it but was reminded as I and my kids were looking through our yearbooks together. They seemed to enjoy getting to know me between those pages. While they looked at mine, I looked at theirs. I get the pleasure of knowing them as my kids, but there’s so much I don’t know and so much I don’t get to see of them as they live more and more of their time away from me. How fascinating to see the comments of their friends, and to see the faces to go with the names over the years. As I flipped through the pages, it was as though I was searching for clues to their futures. Will they be happy? Will they achieve their goals? Who will they become? As they flipped through the pages of my high school yearbooks, they seemed to be looking for similar clues. Who was she and how different is that from who she is today? How did she get from there to here? Apparently, according to them, I haven’t changed much.
I kind of think they’re right. I recently had the chance to get together with some of my high school friends. The occasion was really to enjoy each other by the pool of my friend’s new home. It really was beautiful. I felt proud and happy for her. But even in the midst of our successes, there were so many stories between all of us that weren’t so rosy. Heartache, regrets, and hurt feelings. Even as we walked the same halls at school together, we had no idea what the other was struggling with and going through. Only now, so many years later were we really getting to know each other.
As I listened to the stories of my friends, I couldn’t help but think of my own kids, especially since they are now the age we were back then. So much of what they shared are the very things that I and most parents hope our children never have to endure. These are the things we worry about for them, and hope to protect them from. But yet, despite their parents’ best efforts, it happened. And here we were, sitting by the pool, living to tell it. So then I wonder, what if our true story is not found between the pages of a yearbook?
Sitting with my friends reminded me of the rainbow I had seen the week before. I could see the rain far out into the distance. I knew it was coming and was expecting it. But what I didn’t expect was the rainbow that appeared BEFORE I felt the first raindrop. A rainbow is such a treat, especially after you have endured the rain. But to experience it during or even before, is a gift. It is a reminder that despite our worries and fears, the rain is necessary. As much as I want to protect and shield them from it all, my kids will have rainy days. And they should. Those rainy days can be cleansing. That is where growth and life happens. The rain provides opportunities to seek shelter, to huddle together, to know you’re not alone.
Sharing together what we have all endured and survived is powerful. But seeing who we’ve become because of it is everything. It is hope.
I’ll make sure the kids have their umbrella, to be sure. But most importantly, I hope they keep their eyes to the sky so they will notice their rainbow when it comes.