My Armor of Sunshine

My Mom surprised me with a bright yellow raincoat the other day. I had a blue one that had a rip in the shoulder. As a busy Mom, I typically put function over fashion and continued to wear the coat with the rip in it. Over time, the rip got bigger and bigger until a bit of fabric on the shoulder flopped over allowing water and cold air to go right through it. Like a hole in a roof, the ripped coat no longer protected me from the rain. My Mom knew that I was constantly on the go, in and out of the car, with the kids and for work. My Mom pointed out the rip in the coat but I was always too busy to go buy a new one. Springtime brought with it lots of rain showers and stormy afternoons. My Mom wasn’t having it anymore. She bought me the coat because she was my Mom and she wanted to make sure I was protected.
When she gave it to me, she was concerned that I wouldn’t like it. She was afraid I wouldn’t like the color. It was the brightest, most cheery shade of yellow. It was the color of the crayon a child chose to draw the sun on their picture. It was the color  those “lemon drops” would be that you sang about in the childhood song. It was the color of the first daffodil that popped up in the springtime. It was the color of happy. My Mom had nothing to worry about because I thought the color was absolutely perfect!
This coat made a statement. Imagine the most dreary day full of gray clouds and pouring rain. I loved the thought of putting on that bright yellow coat, zipping it up and pulling up the hood on a day like that. I could go out into the cold, the wind, and the rain wearing my own little piece of sunshine. The waterproof material was seamless. Not a single raindrop was going to seep through to the inside. The water rolled right off. The oversized hood covered my head and offered an extra bit of fabric that shielded my face. The super soft yellow-and-white checkered lining kept me warm inside. Like a mother’s love, the bright yellow coat hugged and protected me from the elements. When I took off the coat, I found that my armor of sunshine kept me warm, dry and unscathed by the outside world.
Even when I wasn’t wearing that coat, I walked through this world with an armor of sunshine. In my lifetime, I weathered many storms just like everyone did. We all had our own stories. I was betrayed by people I trusted. I suffered great losses. I battled a deadly disease. Still, just as that yellow coat allowed the rain to bounce off of me, my own personal armor of sunshine left my soul untouched. I remained positive through the most dire of circumstances. I could have allowed myself to become bitter and jaded and mad at the world but instead, I chose to put on my bright yellow raincoat, splash a smile across my face and say “Take that, world! You won’t break me”.
Daily, I struggled with the negativity in this world. It was often difficult to watch the news or to read a local paper.  The stories were heartbreaking. A simple trip to the grocery store or local restaurant included example after example of how horribly people treated each other. Rude customers shouted at cashiers over coupons or humiliated a waitress over a lunch order. Aggressive drivers honked their horns and yelled out the window in parking lots . I never watched scary movies. There was enough scary stuff in the everyday.  I tried to avoid people and places where bad things might happen. I made my social circle smaller and smaller.  I surrounded myself with people who were pure of heart.  Still, I had to interact with the outside world which could be a very cold, dark place.

Some people were just plain miserable. Some people looked for problems. Some people were hateful towards each other. Some people took pleasure in tearing others apart. Some people that I trusted disappointed me. I saw it every day but I tried to stay positive and to be that little bit of sunshine peeking out from behind the rain clouds. It wasn’t always easy but I chose to look for the sunshine even when everyone around me chose to walk around with dark clouds over their heads. I never understood why people chose to live their lives that way.  It really was a choice.
When bad weather approached, I wrapped up tightly to protect myself from the winds of negativity and the showers brought on by unsettled circumstances. I never wanted that misery to permeate into my soul and to dampen my spirit. I never wanted other people’s darkened views to cast a shadow over mine. I never wanted that … so I simply never let it happen.
The thoughtful gift of the perfectly yellow raincoat warmed my heart and soul. It was particularly fitting that my Mom was the one who gave it to me. When I was little, she always made it better. When I was growing up, she was always there to pick me up when I was down. When I became an adult, she became my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. When I was sick, my Mom fought right along with me. She helped me with the kids and the house when I was too exhausted from chemotherapy. She took care of me after I had surgery or wasn’t feeling well. She wrapped me up in the armor of a mother’s love. She prayed and she willed me back to health. Only now that I am a Mom did I truly understand just how difficult it was for her to watch me suffer during those hard times. She was my sunshine during my storm. She was that hopeful ray of sunlight peeking out from behind the clouds during my darkest hours. She was the one who taught me how to weather life’s storms with grace, with hope and with dignity. I thanked her for the gift that day but it was so much more than just a thoughtful gesture. That bright yellow coat protects me from the rain, wind and cold but my Mom was and always will be my true armor of sunshine.
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Author: Jennifer Lilley Collins

I'm a Mom, wife, daughter, and friend navigating life with metastatic breast cancer while finding joy in the everyday and spreading hope, love, and inspiration along the way.

3 thoughts on “My Armor of Sunshine”

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