To Bear the Rainbow Thirty Seconds

To Bear the Rainbow Thirty Seconds June 4, 2021


There were two announcements of newborn babies in my Facebook news feed, one after the other, when I first looked at it this morning.

The first one was my friend’s daughter, a great surprise as my friend is forty-one. “No, we were neither trying nor not trying,” she preempted in a comment, and we laughed. She wanted it to be a surprise to most of her online friends to avoid the nitpicking and advice, since forty-one is high-risk. The pregnancy came off without a hitch until the last minute, when my friend began to develop pre-eclampsia and had her Caesarian a week before scheduled. The baby a beautiful, healthy girl, eyes open just a bit, looked bewildered as newborns do, wearing a hat with a bow bigger than her head. Her mother cradling her is a bit gray on top. I can’t describe the joy and hope I had just looking at that picture.

My friend was posting to Facebook about how the baby will be going to the lovely little Catholic daycare down the block when her other daughter is in Kindergarten– so many plans for a beautiful family with a whole life ahead of them.

The other baby announcement was for a child called Francis, and Francis already dead.

I only know this family online, but I’ve been following their story for awhile, getting to know the mother and talking with her a bit, praying for them. Francis had trisomy 18. He was never expected to live long. His courageous mother wanted him to have as much of a life as he possibly could. She bore him knowing she’d have a little time for a baptism, some cuddling and singing, and then deliver him over to Heaven. And that’s what happened. He lived just under twenty-four hours. His entire life was spent happily, cuddling with his family, hearing music and the prayers of the Church. They had no plans for the future past buying a casket. They just loved him for all the time they had.

There’s no tragedy in a life full of love, prayer and music from dawn to dusk. There is glory in bringing that Baptismal robe to Heaven completely unstained. That is a perfect life. But for the people left behind, I can’t imagine the pain.

There is a short poem by Carl Sandburg:

Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves.
They flickered out saying:
“It was worth being a bubble, just to have held that rainbow thirty seconds.

That’s all life is, really.

You bear a rainbow thirty seconds.

Some of us get a thirty seconds that seems a lot longer. But we all bear a rainbow far more beautiful and complicated than anything we could have made up or earned. The name of that rainbow, is life. Life is a great mystery, a solemn duty, the first vocation and an impossible gift. It’s worth being a bubble just to bear that mystery until you’re not a bubble anymore.

I hope that other baby bears the rainbow for decades and decades to come. I hope she flickers out an old woman, surrounded by family and friends. Francis bore the rainbow a day, and he is in the arms of the Father. Both lives are precious.

It’s worth being a bubble.



Image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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