Several years ago during my graduate studies, I was blessed with an opportunity to attend a campus speech given by Dr. Angelou and her words remained with me long after the speech itself concluded. Her voice has always reminded me of a treasured family quilt; a bit frayed and rough around the edges but quick to envelope you in its soothing warmth and abundance of love, and this particular speech was no exception. She spoke of her life and how she endured those dark periods by turning to those writers that became her "rainbow in the clouds" and then made the decision to share her own story with hopes of helping others in similar situations. Her message, in short, was that no matter how difficult or dark our lives may become, we should take these experiences and share them with others so that we all may become a rainbow in someone else's cloud. During some of my own darkest moments, I often reflect on this and have always found it to be greatly comforting. If my own experiences can be shared with another and provide a sense of comfort to another experiencing a similar sense of darkness, then somehow my own tribulation is given a sense of purpose.
Dr. Maya Angelou will be greatly missed but her words and inspiration will remain with us. Today, I take comfort in knowing that her spirit continues to rise up and will always shine through in every rainbow that comes my way.