Dear Rainbow House owners,
I am writing to tell you that I appreciate your rainbow painted house.
But more importantly, I’m writing to tell you that my young son appreciates your rainbow painted house.
3 months ago we began our nearly daily pilgrimages into Boston’s Longwood area via the VFW Parkway. In the first weeks it would take us by surprise. My son would look up from his iPad game or YouTube DJ’ing to see your house. He would then announce to me loudly, “Look, Momma! The Rainbow house!” I would affirm him. Then we’d turn the corner at Hancock Village and set our minds on the next thing.
But as the days turned to weeks we both began seeking out your house. Shortly after turning onto the Parkway at Bridge St., the VA hospital on our right, he would ask, “How soon until we see the Rainbow House?” Stopping at the light at the bottom of the hill I would remind him, “Just up here a little more.” Yesterday we were taking the same route though with a different destination when he called out to his older brother and sister, “You GUYS! Rainbow House is coming up!”
I’m sure you’ve gathered, we LOVE your house. But the reason might not be what you think.
You see, in May of this year my 9 year old son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. His weekly chemo therapy and nearly daily blood draws and level checks require frequent trips into Jimmy Fund Clinic and Children’s Hospital via your street.
As you can imagine these trips have quickly become arduous. While traffic is sometimes an issue, the greater problem is our destination. Gabe knows he’s going for more medication that will make him feel miserable, more poking and prodding with needles and instruments, more waiting endlessly for drips and labs and doctors. Every time we drive past your house we are inevitably doing Cancer Things. And Cancer Things are not fun. Cancer Things are scary.
But then Gabe sees your house. At 9 years old he can’t tell me what he is feeling, but I can see it in his eyes: Hope. Because bright colors put together in a rainbow means hope. And also it means luck – GOOD luck. And also it means happiness. Because you cannot see a rainbow and not feel happiness. By his smile, I can assure you there is happiness.
This is what I imagine Gabe sees. But, dear Angels, I have lived more years and I know what the rainbow means. I know that painting your house in rainbow colors is both an act of courage and an act of resistance. I know that a Rainbow House like yours, including all of its joy and hope, would risk being burned to the ground just 10 years ago and maybe even today, were it not sitting in West Roxbury. And I know the freedom and victory you must feel to paint your very home in colors that now symbolize inclusive love; a freedom worth the risk because -Thank God! – we are all blessed and therefore beloved. When I look past my newly radiant, bald little boy and see your beautiful house what I see is courage. Courage and, of course, joy. And hope. And happiness.
So thanks. Thanks for sharing yourselves with us – especially since what you have to offer is exactly what we need right now. Thank you for giving him hope when hopelessness looms in his shadows. Thank you for giving me courage to walk with my child through this hell that is the scariest thing I have ever done.
Thank you for sharing your gayety with us. Your courageous joy gives us life.