Rainbows after our storm
The year 2019 was a hard year for our family - a beautiful but hard year. Beautiful because we got to meet and kiss and touch the newest and tiniest members of our family, our premature twin girls. Hard because our 'normal' lives were put on hold to be with them, spending 2 months in the NICU with one and almost seven months in the NICU with the other. We quite literally handed over our other two children (our son, 3 and our daughter 15 months at the time) to family and friends on a daily roster so we could be with the two that needed us the most. Yes we had to choose between our children.
I think back to this now and realise the enormity of the decisions we were making and the harrowing life we lived - but at the time we were just doing our best to get through the days. We had very little opportunity for the family time we so craved. There were no walks to the park or visits to the cinema. No time for craft or baking. In fact the highlight of those months were the occasional weekends when we had all of our children with us in the hospital, navigating the chaos of four children under four in a room filled with machines and lines that were quite literally keeping one of our babies alive. We didn't know it at the time but those days in that hospital room would be the only days we'd ever have with all four of our children together as a family.
So when our warrior princess grew her wings a few days before Christmas, we entered the new year, 2020, in a haze of grief so thick that it felt like we'd never escape it. I remember us feeling so lost in those early weeks - there was no more baby in the hospital to rush to, no more calls to the NICU nurse for an overnight report, no more family and friends arriving to our door to help with the kids...our compass was out of whack. We needed to find our new normal. We needed to learn to be parents to our remaining three children again. We busied ourselves with playdates, parks, shops and weekend day trips - all to help us forge ahead through that haze of grief. I was scared that if we paused for too long it would weigh us down and consume us.
Then the global pandemic hit. We were forced into lockdown. We were forced to stay home. No more park visits, no more wandering the shops, no more weekend day trips. We were forced to pause. What I didn't know at the time was that this was exactly what we needed.
Lockdown brought us together. No it wasn't all smooth sailing - trust me I lost my patience more times in those first weeks of lockdown than I'd like to admit. But we got into our groove. We started our days with some exercise and fresh air as we eagerly hunted for teddy bears and followed the rainbow trail. With each gleeful discovery a little glimmer of colour was returned to our world. Those teddy bears and rainbows brought more joy to our heavy hearts than I could ever express.
We walked our way through the changes of the seasons; and while we juggled the obvious reality of niggling siblings, whining and tantrums - we also took our time to watch the autumn leaves brown and fall. We took our time to observe our shadows disappear behind the cover of winter clouds and to witness the first blooms of spring. We took our time because we had time.
Having my husband home with us was the other real prize of lockdown. We had time to just 'be' together, time to adjust to a world without our Nora, time to get to know our kids again. On sunny days we'd have a picnic lunch in the backyard before Rich would have to rush back to work, but those breaks in his day were invaluable to all of us. Our afternoons were spent doing craft, baking, drawing and lots of Disney movies - and while toddler tantrums and fragile 4-year-old emotions were never too far away, the small joys far outweighed the challenges. We found pleasure in the simple things because there was no where else to be except together.
"We found pleasure in the simple things because there was no where else to be except together."
So as we prepare to come out of lockdown, I look back fondly at this time with my family. And while that haze of grief still looms large (I think it always will), I am so thankful for the cracks of light and colour that have pushed through the dark skies and entered our lives again. We have the lockdown to thank for that. While last year was the year that brought us to our knees, this year has offered us the opportunity to help ourselves back up. Despite such uncertain times in the world, 2020 has been the year that taught us to look for the rainbows after our storm.