Last Friday a friend and I flew to Melbourne and drove to the Yarra Valley for a night. Under any other circumstances it would be my ideal getaway. But not this time.
We were going down to attend a funeral. Of a little boy, not yet three who died suddenly the Friday before last. The much wanted, first child of our good friends. The loveliest couple you’d ever meet. And he the loveliest of boys. His mother is six months pregnant with his little sister.
The Monday before his death I saw him. The family were up here in Brisbane for a brief visit. We hadn’t seen them since April. I remarked how much he’d grown. Such a strapping looking lad. Tall. Healthy. His cherubic baby face becoming that of a little boy, framed by a head of blonde curls.
If someone told me as I waved goodbye to him that he would be gone by the end of the week I wouldn’t have believed them. No one would have believed them. Especially his parents.
The reason for his death is still unknown. All that is known is whatever took him moved swiftly and its prelude left no clue as to what devastation was to come.
It’s so hard to make sense of such a thing that makes no sense at all. Such a sensitive and beautiful boy. I remember my friend telling me that while they were months into trying for their second child, their boy looked up at his dad and said out of nowhere “Baby coming soon, Daddy”. And sure enough, that month they fell pregnant. Just the month they were scheduled to begin IVF treatment. He was also so very sure it was a girl, knowing before they knew and so excited by the prospect of becoming a big brother.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more moving and sad funeral. I sat there, my own baby boy asleep in my arms, the words washing over me as the tears fell. Such moving tributes to a life that was too short, but so vividly lived.
Like a rainbow, bursting with colour and life. And gone too quickly.
I sat watching the slideshow of photos and still didn’t quite believe that he had gone.
And still now my own slideshow plays in my mind. All my memories of him. The phonecall from my friend announcing her pregnancy after about two years of trying, of the baby shower I organised where we all belly danced around the loungeroom and threaded flowers in my beautiful friend’s hair, of meeting him at the hospital and holding him for the first time, of minding him for an hour or so and watching him fall to sleep (such a big deal to pre-parent me), of making his rabbit breakdance repeatedly until he giggled, of him visiting the hospital when my baby boy was born.
I don’t have the words to take away my friend’s pain. I found myself saying all the wrong things I think. I found myself saying ‘how’s it going?’ as a greeting and realising how stupid that sounded as the words tumbled out. I already know how it’s going – they are angry, devastated, numb, and so incredibly sad. All I can offer is my love and support, an ear to listen and a heart to empathise. They are surrounded by people who will offer them that. But it’s a cold comfort. It won’t bring their boy back.
It rained over the valley that day. Greyness was all around. It was somehow fitting – it’s how we all felt. But just when the refreshments following the funeral were drawing to a close and the packed room had thinned out a little, a rainbow appeared and lit up the gloom. The brightest, most vivid rainbow I’d ever seen; It almost burnt the eyes, it shone so bright. And so did he. A life like a rainbow, so beautiful yet fleeting, shining in all our hearts forever.