My very own Rainbow
When I read the message on my phone I froze, rereading the words in my head. I couldn’t understand. My legs gave out and my heart rose to my throat. Every beat made my body flinch. Not him, please not him. Questions raced through my mind. I tried to talk but I couldn’t find the words to say. I mumbled and stuttered but it was impossible for anyone to understand. After minutes of torturing thoughts, I forced myself to spit out the words I didn’t want to believe. “My Dad…he’s hurt.”
Ryan was the first to know. After two years of being together we were pretty much inseparable. I was watching him as his team dominated in his dodge ball game. That is when I got the text. He picked me up right in the middle of the game and headed for the emergency exit. He raced to his car as if his life depended on it; not slowing down or even breaking a sweat. He buckled me in and then sped away heading toward the hospital. I can remember his face; Worry is his eyes, concern in his smile. I could tell he didn’t know what to do in this situation. He kept trying to tell me everything was going to be okay, but he couldn’t quite finish his sentence. That was Ryan though, always trying to please others, even when it was impossible.
My mom was waiting outside the emergency room. There was terror soaked into her face. It was bad and she couldn’t hide it from me; the answer was right there in her expression. I jumped out of the car and shot into her arms. She hugged me tighter than ever before. Then she grabbed my hand and we began to walk inside. She explained what happened. I could see it all in my head as she spoke. My tough, unbreakable dad on his way home from choir practice, his bright green, brand new motorcycle glistening in the moonlight. How it really happened is still a mystery, but he laid there helpless in the gutter. I could imagine him trying so hard to get up, he was never a quitter. My heart sunk as my mom continued with the details while were led to see him before he went into surgery. I turned the corner and there he was lying on a hospital bed. A yellow neck brace hugged his throat and tubes were helping him to breath. His flawless face was cut up and broosed. I had never seen my dad so weak, he was the strongest person I had ever met; the one who taught me how to ride my first bike, the one who taught my how to beat up a boy and he was the one that told me to always follow my dreams no matter what stood in the way. How could he be like this now? I ran to his side and clung on to his hand. Tears streamed down my face as I begged him not to leave me. The nurses made me let go and rolled him away.
My family was led up to level five. We piled into the waiting room. The lights were dim and tissue boxes were on every table. Chairs lined the walls and we filled them up then waited. My eyes were glued to the clock and hours slowly went by, one am, two am, three am, four am. Then finally the doctor stepped into the room. His white scrubs seemed to glow as he entered and a haunting feeling followed him.
His words I will never forget. “I am sorry. We did all that we could but it is time to prepare for the worst and gather the family.” I stopped breathing and my body began to shake. I grabbed my brother’s shirt as I began to sob. I didn’t sleep the few hours of the night that were left. All I could do was pray for a miracle and I didn’t stop until we were allowed to go back and see my dad.
When I saw him again I couldn’t help but gasp. My dad had always been handsome. He was still mistaken to be in his thirties when he was well into his fifties and he never let us forget that. He was a strong man, with abs of steal and arms great enough to hold all five children. He had dark curly hair that grew upward instead of down and clear blues eyes that unmistakably showed his love for others. The man I saw in front of me was completely changed. His hair was gone, his eyes were swollen with black and blue circles around them, and he lay there limp and powerless. That first day was the hardest.
The hospital turned into our new home. We were there every day and clung to our dad’s side; talking to him and holding his hand. Every second we searched for a response. Pictures covered my dad’s room and classical music was always playing in the background. He was a concert pianist and we all believed that the beautiful melodies would bring him back to us. I learned to stare at his feet. They would move every once in a while and they were the one thing that hadn’t changed. His little feet and stubby toes became my favorite things to look at.
After a week and a half of no improvement the doctors told us we had important decisions to make. We were told that there was a 95% chance conditions would remain exactly as they were and the other 5% was that he would be handicapped for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t be able to talk, walk, or even move the left side of his body. I hated thinking about my tan athletic dad stuck in a wheel chair and mentally disabled. He would hate that. He was out in his garden every day; whether it was weeding, planting knew plants, or even picking his fruits and vegetables to give to the neighbors. He wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. Even worse, he wouldn’t be able to play the piano; that was his life. It was his way of touching other people’s lives. After all of the information I still couldn’t let go. I needed to be able to talk to him everyday, for advice, for comfort; he was my best friend.
More days went by and my heart was torn in two. Being the youngest child, my other siblings tried to comfort me and help me be at peace, but I couldn’t move on without knowing that my dad still loved me. I remember my dad telling me that the day grandma died, she sent a rainbow clear across the valley to say, “I love you.” It was a very special memory and symbol for my family. I would ask him every day, “Dad please send me a rainbow. Ill be looking.” I looked every day but I never saw one.
The twelfth day was it. The terrible decision we were fighting to make was final…Slowly methodically and sealed with prayer, all the tubes were removed and every brace was taken off. He laid there breathing slowly all by himself. I watched as his chest went up and down. I knew I only had a few seconds left to spend with my dad.
Every single one of my siblings stood in a circle, hand in hand, including my dad. It had been a long time since we had all been together. We watched as our dad, our lifetime hero, took his last breath. His chest slowly stopped moving and tears filled the room. I felt so empty, as if my heart had been ripped out. That’s when I saw it; sunlight through the window reflected a rainbow spreading across the wall behind my dad. All my horrible thoughts and fears disappeared. He sent it to me to let me know he was still there and would always remain by my side. I will always remember the moment my dad made me my very own rainbow.