If you have had a miscarriage, still-birth or lost a child very young, you might find yourself wondering what their life would have been like. You might mark their birthdays or the anniversary of their departure from this world, or daydream about what they might have done or experienced. As for me, I did not, or rather I did not allow myself. Until now. On the bus last week, before my acupuncture session, I found a thought passing through me: “I wonder what she would have been like?” I came home in the evening and through a part-channelled writing process I wrote this…
Ellie Rainbow: The Girl That Never Was
I wonder what she would have been like – my little Ellie Rainbow. I wonder what she would have loved, what she would have thought about, what would have made her face wrinkle and crinkle. I wonder what life she could have had…
When she was five she got her hand caught in a drawer. I remember the little yelp she gave and how she tried so desperately to stop the tears from falling. I kissed her hand gently as she truly believed that my kisses were magic. Her nose was red and her eyes puffed up with salty stings; her curls seemed to have also sprung up with the shock of it all. But my kisses worked their magic and all was calm again. She had been exploring, looking for adventure and hidden treasure.
When she was eight she introduced me to her best friend. His name was Lucas. He had hair so black it turned blue. His eyes were wide and bright with an old soul peering out from inside. He called me Ma’am and always nodded deeply by way of hello and reverence. Together he and Ellie would talk about what the world would be like when they were old. They used to compete with each other to create a more and more fantastical future:
“We will float around as we will have magnets in our shoes and we will not need to get our feet dirty.”
“And we will talk to animals through a headset that will tell us what they are saying and they will help us grow things.”
“And we will live on the moon, in pods made from the trees with roofs made of seaweed.”
I wonder whether they are doing this now, in their universe.
When she was thirteen I took her to buy her first bra. She was still as flat as a pancake, as her teasing Auntie would often say, but she wanted so much to be like the bigger girls. On our way to the shop she saw a boy. He had red streaks in his hair, brown skin and a huge toothy smile. He stared at her, for longer than she was used to, and I saw the first spark of a more adult connection fly from her young heart. She looked at the floor as she walked past him, trying to push her gaze up at the same time, her mouth betraying itself by turning upward into a goofy grin, and I heard her hold her breath.
Did they fall in love? Did they hold each other when life brought them sadness? Do they have their own children in their world, falling in and out of love?
When she was twenty-one she sat me down with a heavy sigh and told me she was sorry. She was sorry that she have moved away and left me while she explored the stars. She could hear their call as a child as she had looked up an outstretched Orion, the distinct “W” of Cassiopeia and square formation of Pegasus, as she had watched the red-blue shift of glittering lights, and tried to make out the distances in between each one. She had pleaded with me to buy her a telescope so she could see further to the binary stars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s moon of Io, the surprising closeness of the planet Mars. She had watched every type of show involving other worlds and followed my tales of meditations to lost civilisations. She went away to study, in depth, the meaning of the light of the universe, discovering black holes and quasars, quarks and nebulas. She was one of the first to go, one of the youngest and likely the most eager.
When she came back to me she cried. She could no longer fight with her tears and embraced their saltiness. She cried with total abandon.
“It’s the most amazing thing, Mummy. I always knew it would be, but to see it and be part of it, to know that what is within is without, that there is no loss and no grief, not really, as everything that can exist does and always will. I am crying because I cannot contain the messages of love within me, it is more beautiful than any sight you can imagine, the infiniteness of it all. It is beauty itself. I am so sorry, Mummy. I am so sorry I had to leave you, to know, to see for myself. I hope you understand.”
She looked at me and in the pool of her eyes I saw it all – every particle, every word ever uttered, every light in the sky. Everything. The entirety of existence, all there in my little Ellie Rainbow’s sobbing hazel eyes…
I know now she is with me. She travels from her universe to mine in an instant and is a constant by my side. My little Ellie Rainbow, the girl that never was, but always will be.
Don’t feel sad for me or for little Ellie Rainbow. I am not. The reason the tale exists may be sad but the message is one of hope and speaks of a love that transcends our physical reality. I hope those of you who have lived through a similar experience find some solace in my story and can be comforted about your own little Rainbows living their lives out there…
Love and light