The rainbow around the moon

The other day, I was lucky enough to witness something beautiful – a rainbow circling the moon. I was even luckier in that I was with friends so we could look at the moon in awe, and apparently had noticed it at exactly the right time – it faded within half a minute. I couldn’t get a photo on my phone, and so I took this photo from google images as the nearest thing I could find.

I have never seen anything like it in my life. It was just beautiful; a quick glimmer of nature, colours in an otherwise dark sky lit only by the moon and stars and grey clouds. Suddenly there was colour. I was so grateful that my friend had decided to look up at that precise moment, and point the rainbow out to us.

The moon holds a lot of meaning for me. It was, on many occasions, the thing to keep me going. Either something to focus on…some faraway light in the dark I could stare at through the window whilst I was raped and tortured….I could stare at the moon waiting for me in the sky and dream of the magic land far away from the pain…

But it  also gave me something to say to the children…to help us deal with grief and the constant weight, fear, and resigned fear that we were probably going to end up dead at some point. How is any child expected to cope with that?

Here is the memory that flickers in my mind every time I see the moon… of the children:

“Jadey…where did the baby go today?” We were kneeling by the windowsill. I had been flicking bits of dust off the windowsill. Grimacing at the dead spiders, curled on their backs with the legs tangled. I half-wondered why the spiders die in such a manner…as though they’re still protecting themselves long after they’ve gone. I poked one. Shuddered. In my right arm I was cradling a child, nearly two years old. Standing behind me were two boys a couple of years older than me-ish. I was probably around 8 at this time. Next to me were two little girls, maybe 4 and 5. Big, wide eyes, staring at the moon. All of us staring outside, dreaming of what lay away from us…

The small child in my arm shuffled into me, my chin tickled by her hair and her little fingers playing with my neck.

Where did the baby go today… how could I answer that…

The baby hadn’t lived. I had watched it scream in pain it couldn’t even hope to understand. It’s tiny little arms – once cuddly and plump like a baby should be, now skin and bone – waving wildly in the air. Crying for someone to pick it up and cradle it, soothe it…day 30 of its life, and already it was nearly over. I remember sadly wondering if it had ever experienced someone cradling it  and showing compassion for even a few moments. Whether it had ever experienced care. I should have been too young to comprehend what was happening. But my heart was breaking. Tears – fat clumsy tears – fell down my cheeks.

I crept closer to the hideous scene. I didn’t want to see more but I wanted to do something for the baby. Softly, I sang…almost under my breath, fearful of being heard by the abusers. But they were too amused at my clear emotional pain and horror at the situation to realise I was in fact trying to soothe the baby. Gently I sang…a gentle lullaby…swallowing my own tears…I didn’t even know if the baby could hear me through the pain and it’s own bitter howls, but I had to try…

Quicker and quicker it’s tiny chest went…and then stillness. At last, the baby lay calm. Day 30. Day 0. Whatever. At last it could be at peace. The war had taken another victim. Tentatively, I rose my hand and touched the baby’s soft downy hair. Sleep now…

Back to the windowsill, hours later. I had cleaned up the wounds on the children too injured, weak or young to do it for themselves. We were a team. We’d re-unite in the room and count…were we all still here… then two would sneak out to get two buckets of warm water…soapy if brave enough… and I’d get some paper to act as towels. We’d lay the ones in need of help onto a “bed”, and take turns to sing, comfort, cleanse and hold the children. Sometimes the injuries would be too much. But we wouldn’t tell them that. We’d just hold them until they fell asleep, and kiss them goodnight…properly goodnight.

But that day we’d been lucky. I had only been raped three times, and only once with objects. I had only been through one form of torture, the near-drowning in a box. Pain was manageable without attention or need for total dissociation. Today was a good day.

But… “Jadey, where did the baby go today?”

What was I supposed to say? Into the fire?! Yeah. Right. Like that was going to let the little one sleep soundly…

I looked out of the window, my heart heavy again at the memory of what had happened just hours before. My little body trembled slightly. I took a deep breath, and my eyes caught sight of the moon. I smiled.

“You all see the moon, yeah?” They all nodded. “Look closely at it…” I whispered. They leant closer, looking at the moon in the sky. Even the little one in my arms. “Some  say there’s a man that lives on the moon…” I continued to whisper. “Can you see?” They nodded, smiling from ear to ear…their imaginations taking over and for a short while I saw *children* next to me. We talked a bit about what the man would be like…. would he have a beard? Would he even be a man? Weren’t men nasty? Maybe this man hadn’t wanted to be nasty and that’s why he’d moved onto the moon? Made sense to me…

“The baby went to him today. When we fall asleep properly and cannot wake up because we’re too tired, the man in the moon looks after us. He’s looking after the baby now, and all of the others…”

“Ah. So when we die, will we go to the man on the moon too? When we fall asleep?”

Catch my heart God before it breaks entirely…

I remember taking a deep breath in to steady myself, and nodding…a false smile on my face. “Yeah.” Was all I managed to say. Then a bit about “try not to worry about that though…”

What a daft thing to say. It’s all our lives were – a constant struggle to survive. Lose sight of that  and we were as good as dead.

Every night from then on I would sing them to sleep and tell them to dream of a pretty place with the man on the moon….

Now to present day. Whenever I see the moon, I think of the children in that damp room, surrounded by pain and misery and yet so completely able to imagine and smile and wonder about the man on the moon. It made our grief more manageable, our fear more tolerable.

Often I wonder now… did you find him? Are you playing up there now? Watching me? Does he indeed have a beard? If I’m having a hard night, I watch the moon. If it’s full, I get a bit lost due to rituals on the full moon…but other than that, the moon is my own symbol of hope, my own method of grieving, my own little piece of love and light in the memories that were otherwise so dark…

The last few  weeks have been so incredibly hard. I have tried to take my life several times. I have found myself consumed with pain and sorrow, and totally lost in despair and unable to see past the hurt. Guilt swallowed me. Would let me go. And then swallow me again.

And then the rainbow appeared around the moon, just at the time where I was outside and watching the moon. With my friends. With the people I care for and love. An icy cold and yet beautiful night.

I smiled. I held in what I was feeling and let the tears flow much later when I was home and in bed. But these were tears of relief. You found him then…the man on the moon…

I took it as a sign. To somehow try and keep going. So even yesterday when I crashed, I remembered the rainbow moon afterwards and tried to hold onto that memory. That beautiful memory from the other night, that little message of hope and remembrance and beauty/colour/light in a place that was otherwise cold and dark.

Thank you little ones, for helping me remember it’s not all black, that even when it’s cold and dark there is beauty and colour, if we just look. Thank you for helping me let go… thank for helping me remember how to fight…

I won’t let you down. Keep playing up there, and I’ll keep going down here for as long as I can….



2 thoughts on “The rainbow around the moon

  1. I wish that I could give you a big hug. You were the one ray of sunshine in those children’s lives. I know that that won’t bring you much relief, but your soul shines through.

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