85: From Heaven, With Love

85: From Heaven, With Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

From Heaven, With Love

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky…

~William Wordsworth

“Watch for it,” said my friend Joani on her deathbed. “Not one, but two rainbows, exactly three days after I die. Got it?”

“Got it,” I choked out, squeezing her hand tight.

“You go out on the beach, walk the boardwalk, and wait for it, you hear me?”

I nodded mutely.

It had been hard for me to accept that Joani was about to leave us. When she’d been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, she fought to beat the odds, outliving the doctor’s prediction of three months by more than three years.

Some friends come into your life by sheer accident, or coincidence, if you believe in such things. When others arrive, you know in your heart it must have been divine intervention.

That was the case with Joani. I was the new kid on the block, and I knew no one at all when I entered the huge conference center to attend my first community college faculty gathering. I was an adjunct professor, and I taught only one off-campus class, but I’d driven over 100 miles to attend the back-to-school orientation anyway.

After I picked up my nametag at the “New Staff” registration table, I turned and looked around for a place to sit.

“Yoo-hoo!” a voice called out. “Over here!” A woman was motioning for me to join her.

I looked to the right and left, and even turned and looked behind me to see who she was calling. Then I turned back to face her and pointed to my chest. “Me?”

She nodded enthusiastically and waved me over, pointing to the seat next to her. “I was saving this seat for you!”

I had never met this woman, and yet within minutes we became friends for life—which in this case turned out to be six and a half more years.

Joani took me under her wing, encouraged me, inspired me, and mentored me through my first year. Her zest and gusto for all things “illiterary,” as she called it, were contagious, and I learned more about teaching English from an afternoon with her than I did in four years of college.

“Those dumb doctors don’t know me,” she said when she first told me about her diagnosis. “I can’t die in three months—I have wine to drink!”

So when she told me to look for double rainbows three days after she passed, I had no doubt they’d be there. And they were—both vividly bright and arcing across the sky, a fitting tribute to the colorful life she’d lived.

~Jan Bono

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