You know, when you're a kid and you see your mom do that - it makes you think twice about whether you want to misbehave! If she could do that to a rattle snake, just imagine... well...
I was so loved and I am so blessed to have some very happy memories of both my parents. When they adopted me, I'm pretty sure I got the better end of the deal!
I lost my mama on September 28th, 2004. She was 82 years old. She had stage 4 colon cancer and it metastasized to her liver. She lived with us until one night when she was having trouble breathing and we called an ambulance. She was in the hospital for 3 days in a coma, then passed away during the night.
The kids I grew up with used to tell me how lucky I was to be an only child - and tease me about being spoiled. So, I had a Shetland pony and got to dig my own worms every Saturday morning to use for bait to fish, what's your point? We also had rabbits, geese, a great vegetable garden and fruit trees all over the place. I learned to appreciate nature and hard work and I developed a keen sense of humor because I lived with the two funniest people ever!
But there's a flip side to being an only child. When my parents died - wow. It hit me like a ton of bricks - I am really alone now in this big old scary world. Most of the time it's alright, but I can't focus on that too much or it freaks me out. I miss my mom - a lot. I have friends who remind me that God is always with me, and I know they mean well when they say that. I just wish a person wearing skin would come and keep me company like my mom used to. I wish mama and I could have a cup of tea and chat the day away and laugh and cry... like we used to. Nothing will ever be - like it was. It's different. Different is not better, it's just... well... different.
Mama's favorite color was turquoise blue and she wanted to be buried in her favorite dress (in the top photo above). At her graveside service, my friends all honored mama by wearing turquoise blue. My heart was touched as I looked out over the intimate group of people wearing various shades of turquoise! I made an arrangement of turquoise blue and violet blue hydrangeas and I also wore turquoise, along with a turquoise necklace and earring set mama gave me one year for my birthday.
The service began, not that I was paying very close attention. I should have felt comforted by what was being said, but all I felt was numb. I kept hearing Pink Floyd in my head saying, "Hello - Is there anybody in there?" "Comfortably Numb" (The Wall) seemed to fit this unbearable circumstance perfectly. I remember listening to that one song over and over as I drove to work in the weeks following the funeral. I know as a Christian I probably should have chosen a more appropriate song to "grieve" to, but this song describes how I felt - angry, abandoned and alone. I was not able to sing happy songs about heaven for quite a while with any degree of sincerity.
I was only half listening to the sermon, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one small monarch butterfly just sort of casually floating through the congregation... then another larger one discreetly passed by. I had not made the connection before, but of course - it was the time of year they should be passing through Kansas. I tried to retrain my thoughts on what was being said in the service, but honestly I just couldn't. The majestic orange and black monarchs seemed completely undetoured by their surroundings as they gently mingled with those in the process of grieving.
While everyone else was praying, I quietly reached into my open handbag to get another tissue and discreetly snag a glucose tablet. Then my eye was caught by one single, turquoise blue butterfly posed on the spray setting on mama's casket. I could quite easily have missed it since it blended in with all of the various shades of turquoise carnations and violet roses so perfectly. Had it not been for the black around the edges of the butterfly, it probably would have gone completely undetected.
The gorgeous turquoise blue butterfly was in no hurry to fly away and lingered on the spray as if God had instructed it to just stay put there until it received further instructions. And stay put it did for a good long while. It made me smile. It was the first time I could smile and really mean it. Still watching the welcome distraction, I sent up a silent prayer of thanks to God for that little butterfly. Just as my prayer ended, it was as if the little butterfly got its instructions from its Creator to move on - and it flew away.
To be perfectly honest, I had never seen a butterfly like it before, nor since, which makes this memory even more precious to me. I have a faith that tells me God gives us what we need when we need it. His perfect timing is never early, and He never gives a gift we don't need, but He knew I needed to see that butterfly. God let me know that mama is alright.
I know she is with Jesus now, and that is the best place to be. I love you, mama - my turquoise blue butterfly.
A great big THANK YOU to my friend Nancie Alewine Blume for this beautiful graphic with my mama's name in it!
My friend Kathy Graham wrote this poem and has given me permission to use it today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thank you, Kathy!
I released a butterfly
To let it go free.
The symbolism of it all
Was known only to me.
“Twas to free my heart
From sorrow and grief.
But as I expected,
There was not much relief.
I wanted my pain
To just go away.
But now I realize,
It’s here to stay.
Just like that butterfly
It flits all about.
The pain comes and goes
Returning without doubt.
But I’ll accept what life’s dealt me
And when that butterfly returns,
I’ll attempt to deflect it
From what my heart yearns.
For the beauty of a butterfly
Should not be confused
With the pain one feels
From a heart that’s bruised.
If this officer had a dime for every time he heard this question, he could retire early! Seriously!!!