By Matt Wotus
People from around the world are sending 9-year-old Robbie Ecuyer pictures of rainbows after his parents died just 22 days apart in May.
Crystal Skawinski, Robbie’s aunt, gained custody of her nephew after her sister, Shelly Ecuyer, died on May 2 from gastroparesis and cystic fibrosis, and her brother-in-law, Robert Ecuyer, died on May 24 after a battle with addiction. She soon became Robbie’s legal guardian.
“The first loss, my sister, was hard enough,” Skawinski, a mother of two from Cohoes, New York, told ABC News. “He lost his bedroom, his toys, his mom, his dad and everything that was consistent in his life. Robbie is autistic and the consistency in life is what [he is] used to, so all of that was taken away.”
She added, “[Gaining custody] helped pull me out of the depression from the death of my sister. There was no second-guessing. Robbie was mine now and that was that.”
Robbie, who loves rainbows, was told that when his mom died, she went “over the rainbow bridge.” The day after she passed away, Erica Toma, a family member, took a picture of a double rainbow that appeared over Robbie’s school.
“I sent [the photo] to his father to help make a mental picture for Robbie,” Toma said. “As you see, one rainbow so strong and another quite vague — another symbol for Robbie to understand mommy was waiting for daddy. Now we find double rainbows all over.”
Seeing the rainbow brought joy to Robbie, but after there wasn’t one the next day, Skawinski took to Facebook to ask for rainbow pictures from around the world using the hashtag #rainbowsforrobbie.
She made the request on July 22, and since then, Robbie has received more than 4,000 rainbow pictures from places including Niagara Falls, Australia, Hawaii and Taiwan. She said she hopes to put the pictures together in a slideshow with music for Robbie.
“It’s very comforting knowing that so many people have reached out to him with the simple request of a rainbow,” Skawinski said. “It’s like he has a whole world behind him now.”
Those who would like to send a rainbow to Robbie can do so by clicking here.