Rodrigo

Rodrigo was at the hardware store, trying to decide what color paint to choose. His wife Irma held out two different swaths of color, looking back forth between them.

Rodrigo and Irma had always wanted to be parents, even before they met. They had tried for years to start a family, without success. When they found out seven months ago that Irma was pregnant, they were ecstatic. They took new parenting classes. They bought diapers, bottles, blankets. They listened to the advice of friends and family, although they were careful to take each one with a grain of salt. Mostly, they dreamed. They dreamed of holding their new daughter in their arms. They dreamed about dinnertimes, family vacations, holidays. They couldn’t wait to meet her.

Now they were at the hardware store, trying to decide the color for her room. The Nursery. Rodrigo and Irma knew that it was important, because it was the color that she would wake up to every day. Go to sleep to every night. They decided on a brilliant yellow, the color of sunflowers. As they drove home, Rodrigo beamed at Irma, excited for the what lay ahead in the future.

But that night, Irma came to Rodrigo, troubled. She had not felt the baby move in a while. They drove to the hospital, each trying to calm the other, saying everything is alright. The wait for the doctor was excruciating. She came back with the news that they were dreading.

“It was a miscarriage. There is nothing I can do. I’m so sorry.”

Irma started sobbing. Rodrigo sat down next to her, held her close, and began to weep.

But Rodrigo had to go to work the next day. He went to Colin, his boss.

“I need some time off.”

“What? Why? This is our busy season, and we can’t really afford to let people take time off.”

“I-We just had a family loss. My wife had a miscarriage.”

“Well, I feel for you, truly I do, but I’m afraid I can’t let you take time off. That’s only for emergencies.”

Rodrigo looked at the floor. He looked up, tears in his eyes.

“I just lost my daughter. Don’t you think that that is an emergency? Do you know how much my wife and I loved her? And now she is gone.”

Rodrigo did get the time off, bereavement leave. Time to mourn with Irma, time to mourn with family and friends. Time to learn, tentatively, to hope again.

Eight years later, Rodrigo was at the hardware store, trying to decide what color paint to choose. Irma was there, and so was their seven year old daughter, Rosa. Rosa was boisterous and energetic, full of life. They were going to plant a family garden in the backyard, and they were choosing what color to paint the fence.

Eventually, they picked a brilliant red, Rosa’s favorite color, the color of apples. They built the fence and planted the garden. They planted potatoes, squash, carrots. They planted rosemary, basil, thyme. They planted an apple tree. And in one corner, next to the apple tree, they planted sunflowers.

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