seagull

Rainbows, Birds, and Messages from the Sea

I made a quick over-and-back trip to Eugene last Sunday upon learning my youngest niece, Nicole was trying on wedding dresses that day. I pretty much invited myself and crashed the party, but I did get permission from the bride-to-be before I left Bend. As you might suspect from the title of this blog, my nieces and I are pretty tight. There was reason to believe I would be welcome, and I was, quite graciously.

As I was leaving town, Alicia, my niece who also lives here in Bend, texted to say she saw a rainbow about thirty minutes into her drive, indicating a good omen for us both despite some snow on the pass. I gave her a thumbs-up and resisted the urge to ask if she was texting while driving as it was likely she had stopped for coffee. And she’s 32 years old. We both made it to Eugene without incident if you don’t count the idiot drivers we both encountered. They gave us reason to roll our eyes and feel superior, though, so that’s always a win.

Alicia, Me, & Baby Nicole (aka “the baby”)

The wedding dress shopping was a great success. Nicole was calm and decisive and found a perfect dress in just under an hour. Her bridesmaids were there, including her sister Abby and cousin Alicia, and there was a lot of laughter and, of course, a few happy tears seeing her so beautiful in her wedding gown. After a quick lunch, I headed back to Bend to get home before dark.

Dress shopping (of course I can’t show you the actual dress)

Before I tell the surreal, cool thing that happened on the highway that afternoon, I’ll let you in on a little of my background with signs. I could give many more examples, but I’m going to try to be concise. If this all seems like a coincidence to you, that’s fine; I’m not trying to convince anyone. But those of you who have had similar experiences will agree that there’s a feeling of knowing that occurs when seemingly ordinary things appear when we need them and take on extraordinary meaning. I choose to trust that feeling of knowing. It makes me a happier person.

ennis montana sign
Speaking of signs… I came across this gem while searching for photos for this blog post. My three brothers in Ennis MT, 1972.

My dad, since his passing in 1989, has been sending me rainbows. When I need them most, they appear without fail, on too many occasions to count. One of the most memorable times was when we had to let our dog, Sage go. It was devastating, but he was very sick, and it was time. He passed peacefully at home with a traveling vet’s assistance, but our girls were with Alicia, so we had to leave the house afterward to go pick them up. Incredibly, double rainbows and dog-shaped clouds (I’m not kidding, ask Bob) followed us across town to get Ella and Hailey. We knew Sage was okay even though we weren’t yet.

Hailey, Sage, and Ella

My mom sends me birds, usually in pairs. Bob and I lived in Illinois at the time of her passing in 1999. It wasn’t long after we returned home from her funeral in Eugene that two red cardinals began their regular visits to the tree outside our front window, bringing with them a profound sense of comfort.

When we moved back to Oregon, I was sad because we don’t have cardinals here, but mom sent doves instead. They liked to perch on the deck of our old house. Since we moved to the rental, I mostly spot them out the kitchen window on the neighbor’s roof. One day last spring, when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, a bird followed Davy and me on our walk. It flew right in front of us just above eye level for a few blocks then returned for another block or two before we reached the house. I got the message, Mom; Life isn’t so bad. It made me laugh out loud.

Davy and Me
Davy and Me

On a typically windy but sunny day on the Oregon coast, about eight years ago, I was walking along, void of much thought, as Bob and the girls were flying a kite further down the beach. Suddenly, above the noise of the ocean, I heard the distinct, scratchy sound of an out of tune radio signal coming from the sky. Stay with me; I promise I couldn’t make this up. Following that, the song, Looking for Space, by John Denver, starting playing. It was also coming from the sky, sounding like a radio from the 1970s. Trust me when I tell you that song had not been on my mind in years. Again, I laughed out loud and said: “Hi, Nancy.” I then looked down on the beach and picked up an almost perfect heart-shaped rock. Nancy is my sister-in-law and the mother of John, Abby, and Nicole, who passed way too soon in 2006. Her husband, my brother Billy, has been singing John Denver songs for as long as I can remember.

A heart-shaped shell I found last summer to replace the rock that was lost in the fire.

Okay, now we’re back to last Sunday, on the highway heading back to Bend from Eugene. It had been raining pretty hard but was letting up a bit, and I had lost most of the traffic coming out of town, so I was alone on the stretch of highway just before McKenzie Bridge. I was listening to an audiobook, and I don’t know how fast I was going, but there’s a good chance I needed to slow down.

I looked up and saw a huge rainbow. Aw, that’s cool, “thanks, Dad,” I thought to myself. Then, and this is where it gets weird, I also saw a large, white, and grey seagull high in the sky just beginning to swoop down. Odd, I thought, not sure I’d ever seen a seagull on that highway before but not too out of the question being only a couple hours from the coast. It continued, aiming straight for my car until it was flying alongside me, then right in front of me, (again a bird at freaking eye level), making me slow way down. It then came to a landing directly in front of my car, forcing me to stop my Highlander in the middle of the highway. An oncoming car swerved to miss it as it flapped and walked across the road away from my car.

Rattled, I slowly drove on and, within a minute, came upon a green highway sign with bold white lettering. I had reached the small community of RAINBOW, Oregon.

I have to admit to being a little freaked out, wondering if I’d make it home that evening, not sure exactly what my spirits in the sky were trying to tell me. It ended up being a slow but safe drive over the snowy pass. It didn’t take much reflection once I was home to figure it out.

I believe with all my heart that my dad, mom, and Nancy were united in their efforts to send me a message.

~Slow down. We’re right here, and we see you. Being there for the people you love is the most important thing. We are excited for Nicole and Trinity to start their lives together. Love is what we should always be choosing, above all else. Everything is going to be okay. ~

My words, of course, but the message came from them. If we pay attention to the signs, the message is almost always the same. Choose love, and everything is going to be okay.

Trinity and Nicole on the day of their engagement

“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher

I love to hear other people’s stories and find that many have had similar, but unique messages from their loved ones. Please feel free to share yours in the comments section!

6 thoughts on “Rainbows, Birds, and Messages from the Sea

  1. Thanks for sharing Molly I’ve not had your experience but totally get your message. We lost our Dad when we were very young I was 12 & 7 siblings I felt something happen in all that tragedy we were a group that no one would ever separate. Two more brothers & 58 years later we still come together.

    1. Donna, you and your siblings are a shining example of what it means to be a family. I’m proud to call you my cousins 🙂

  2. Molly, thank you so much for sharing your experiences! What a wonderful day you must have had. I feel Becky every time I see a butterfly or a beautiful sunset. She is still a big part of our lives.

  3. Thanks for your observations and perspective..it does my heart good..your folks were special people and I also truly believe God allows our loved ones to send us messages if we but listen.

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