Below is a journal entry that Maleia Lake wrote on her Caring Bridge page for her daughter, Caroline, on March 21, 2022. Maleia and Doug have four children. Their son, Ben, died of a rare heart disease called pulmonary vein stenosis (PVS) at three months old. Doug wrote in a previous blog post, “The birth of our rainbow baby, Caroline, brought light and color back to our lives after such darkness. Then, at three months old she, too, was diagnosed with PVS. She was medically evacuated to Boston Children’s Hospital. Things were grim.” That was six years ago. Today, Caroline is a bright, energetic kindergartener.
Today I woke and thought to myself, “How am I going to handle today? How am I going to shape it and make today work?” A few seconds later I changed course as I remembered grief is not a problem to manage; rather, it’s something to work with when it strikes. And I knew today was going to have its moments of bitterness. Should I let the question go or be prepared with a plan?
I didn’t have long to ponder on it as my husband, Doug, needed a ride to work long before 8:00 am. Two of the girls had school starting at 8:00 and our awesome builder team was coming by to look at the water roof leak issue with the contractor at 8:00 as well. Breakfast had to get going. Girls needed to be woken. Time to roll not time to prepare.
And so the day started off with a sprint and the morning’s activities all queued up. However, I found myself being startled every time I saw the date, March 21, and pings of sadness strike me at times. Today was the anniversary of Ben’s passing. It was today. Just eight years ago. And six years ago today, we arrived at our baby Caroline’s hospital door to see she was taken off food. WHY??? We were trying to get her to gain every ounce possible before her open heart surgery on Wednesday. We soon discovered that instead of the 23rd as it had previously been agreed upon, she was going to surgery this very day, March 21. The surgeon arrived back from Japan the night before and wanted her in for surgery as soon as he could get her there. We hadn’t even met him yet. So today is a marked day forever in my mind and heart by pain, vulnerability, trust, and hope. And while I vow it won’t bring me the same pain Ben’s birthday does, it still is a day that jolts me… The day Ben died in 2014 and the very same day in 2016 Caroline was given a chance to beat the very same heart and lung disease that took her brother.
Caroline’s virtual school ended mid-morning and our project manager James knocked on the door. “You gotta bring the kids out to see this. There’s a rainbow over your house. I don’t know why. It’s the strangest thing. No rain, no moisture. But you need to see this. It’s really cool!”
My heart stopped as did my breathing. I knew right away. I knew exactly why that rainbow was there. It was Ben. It was God. It was the two of them reaching out. I couldn’t believe it. It was not awesome in the cool sort of the word. But it was biblical AWESOME. Just as the rainbow shone the morning Caroline was born (ZERO percent chance of rain that day and yet we had a 20 minute rainstorm followed by a rainbow; only two rooms on the maternity floor could view that rainbow and we were one of them), this rainbow spoke for itself. What an AWE-some God we have. He had His own plan for me today.
And so with every ping of pain today came this joy from seeing the rainbow. I will never forget this gift.
1. Facing important dates and milestones can be very difficult when you have lost a loved one. What has helped you cope with grief on these memorable dates? 2. Have you felt God's presence during times of grief? If so, how did that comfort come about?