The rainbow is typically a symbol of luck, and the Moorefield family of Rice, Minn., could certainly use some.
Isaiah Moorefield, 19, died by suicide in July 2018 and things have been rough ever since, said his mom, Rachel.
"We thought we were mental health advocates for him — he struggled with depression a lot — but we weren't enough," said Moorefield. "He was extremely intelligent and could charm anybody and he was like that until the day he died. But the depression took over and he started to cut and there were outbursts. Over the years, every time we thought it got better, it would start to get worse."
How could Rachel, her husband, Steve, and daughters, Bella and Myley, move on? And find meaning in loss?
Those have been difficult questions to answer. When things were feeling dark last summer, Rachel had an idea for how to combat months of COVID-19 fear and isolation: make sun catchers as "a way of capturing the light, multiplying it and adding a little sparkle to make it a rainbow."
The girls came up with a name — Eternal Rainbows — and the whole family got to work. The first batch of glass bead creations (usually hung in windows) benefited AnnaMarie's Alliance, a domestic violence shelter in St. Cloud.
"We try our best to give the girls a proper world perspective," Moorefield said. "They were aware that, especially during COVID, it was difficult for some people at home, that there were a lot of different scenarios. So they wanted to raise money for the women, the children and animals at the shelter."
In addition to bringing light to folks at AnnaMarie's, their project buoyed the Moorefields.
"We're trying to find enlightenment for the girls, not always channeling them in the direction of mourning and grieving. This was a way to talk about Isaiah, bring up things he liked, ask if the people we give them to might think about him, keep his memory alive and do something together," said Moorefield.
That might have been it for Eternal Rainbows. But as the daylight hours grew shorter and the world felt bleaker in November, Moorefield started thinking about others who might be experiencing the darkness.
"I said, 'Why don't we do some to delight COVID patients?' " said Moorefield. "So now, for every sun catcher we sell [for $16], we donate one to a patient who is hospitalized with COVID."
While the rest of the world was mastering sourdough or assembling puzzles, her family made about 1,600 sun catchers in December alone. (Steve is the fastest; Rachel usually supervises.) So far, they've donated about 300 sun catchers, with supplies needing to be replaced so often that, for a while, bead stores were tapped out.
All that time, Isaiah was on their minds.
"Figuring out what life after a suicide is has left us struggling and, through that darkness, it has been so important to let others know they matter and that they're not alone," said Moorefield. "Anything we can do where somehow Isaiah's name and our story could help anyone see through their darkness is our life's mission now."
The rainbow colors provide an additional layer of meaning, since Moorefield insists, "color is beautiful. Sexual orientation is beautiful. Everything that makes us different and unique is beautiful."
She thinks Isaiah would find Eternal Rainbows (eternalrainbows.com) beautiful.
"Excuse my language, but I think he would be damn proud. I know it would be hard for him to look down and see us struggling, see us not being able to move on without him," said Moorefield. "But I would like to think he would be happy and proud."
That helps. Moorefield said "nothing will take away the pain I experience every second of every day," but she's trying to teach her girls that something good can come out of something bad.
"We haven't been capable of a lot of things since losing Isaiah," she said. "Everything we tried felt like we were moving forward without him. But creating this was a way to cheat the system. I didn't have to move forward. Instead, I could have people learn his name and our story."
By creating light for others, her family found light for themselves and that, said Moorefield, "is a gift we did not see coming."
Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367