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I Like to Look for Rainbows

July 29, 2008

The title of Nita Milner’s song is “When I Am Baptized,” but I don’t think anyone really calls it that much. It’s one of those songs that people know more because of its first line.

Today is her birthday. She would have been fifty-six years old, but she died four and a half years ago. I was pregnant with my daughter on her last birthday, and nearly due. I felt too worn out to make a cake. So we bought a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and stacked them up, then stuck candles in them for a cake. One of my favorite pictures is of her with my son on her lap, smiling at the candles on her donut cake.

Five weeks later, two weeks after my daughter’s birth, her transplanted kidney failed. And then a week before Christmas that year, she had a heart attack. New Year’s Day she died.

To celebrate her birthday, we always eat donuts and sing her music. She wrote more songs than “When I am Baptized.” When I sing her music, especially that song, sometimes it’s so familiar to me that I don’t really think about her. You can’t live in a state of grief, you know? it’s important to allow myself to heal, to be able to sing her music without choking up like I did just after she died.

Other times when I sing, though, I think about her a lot. I know there are many children who have sung her song, who love it. But I have selfish reasons for loving it: I want it to be something my children hold on to.  I think my kids feel a certain ownership, a specialness about her music. Her song belongs to them more than any other song in the Primary book.

And also, it belongs to me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2008 3:03 pm

    Thanks, sweetie.

  2. Johnna permalink
    July 30, 2008 4:07 am

    I loved reading this about Nita Milner, and your closeness to her.

  3. September 22, 2008 11:57 pm

    ooh, I love this. My oldest son sang, “When I am Baptized” at his own baptism and I can still remember the exquisite sweetness of his innocent voice.

    I do believe “rainbows” has become the most cherished baptism song in the church.

  4. leslie permalink
    November 27, 2008 2:39 am

    what an incredible legacy to leave, a special tribute, thanks for giving me another great reason to love that song

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