It was almost time for Lyle to change into his pajamas this evening when I offered to take him on a short dog walk with me. We decided to walk just down to the beach and back to get a little fresh air. As Lyle ran ahead, screeching to a halt as if his shoes had some sort of braking system at each driveway and alleyway, I took in how still the night was. It had been a chilly and windy day here, necessitating my winter down coat for our earlier walks; I didn’t need it anymore tonight.
The beach lured us in, sunlight glowing on the rising waves. The air was still and we watched a dozen seagulls coasting over the water, waiting to see one diving for a fish. We talked about different types of shells we found and I showed him that there were huge shadows over the lake because the sun was setting behind us, behind the buildings at the end of our street. But where the sun was bright, the light on the water, the sand, and my boy was beautiful.
The scene reminded me of one of my favorite Mother’s Days, when we lived in San Francisco, a few months before Lyle was born. I woke up in our apartment that day to breakfast in bed brought in by Matt and Baxter (probably from Arizmendi Bakery), and we looked out our bedroom window at a clear, sunny spring day. On a fogless day like that we could see the ocean about 30 blocks away from our bed, and suddenly being there was all I wanted. And so the three of us headed out to play at Ocean Beach after breakfast and it was a glorious morning. My sense memory of the clear California sunlight and that blue, blue water is very strong. I felt lucky to be in it.
As I thought about that long ago morning, I was overwhelmed with the realization that I was standing on a beach in Chicago this time, talking to that once unborn child, six years later on the eve of Mother’s Day, when suddenly it started to rain. Hard, and from out of nowhere. “Lyle!” I said, delighted, “the sun is shining and it’s raining! We should look for a –” I turned as I said it and there in front of us was suddenly forming the most incredible rainbow I’ve seen in my life. It extended over Lake Michigan in a perfect arc, both ends resting atop the water right in front of us and appearing to be close enough that we could reach out, grab it and take it home in our pockets to admire later. As the colors became brighter and stronger, there emerged a slightly lighter second rainbow – a double rainbow! – above it. I looked around but we were the only ones on the beach to witness this wonder so close up. If I’d had my camera with me you would have thought I’d photoshopped it in, it was that unbelievable. I searched for an image similar to it and it was somewhat like this one without the landforms behind it and a little brighter and closer.
We stood there in amazement. I told my boy that seeing a rainbow like this will bring us great luck and we talked about how special it was to have seen it together. We stood back on the sidewalk before it faded and carefully made our own visual memories of it so we’d never forget it. I know we never will.
I now have another amazing Mother’s Day memory from another beach in a different city with my second child to add to my cache. I felt like the luckiest person in the whole world.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Lyle’s rendering: to help him remember