The greatest of life’s mysteries – Death

Image by Prajna Dewantara ॐ

I have this thing about butterflies. Is there a creature anywhere more symbolic of transformation?

A butterfly lives two distinctly different lives: first as a worm, and second, as a glorious winged being. When its earth-bound days are ending, it weaves its own shroud and liquefies. What emerges bears no likeness to what it once was.

Shortly after my father died I was sitting in my treetop house, doors and windows open, writing (as I usually am) when an elegant caramel-colored butterfly with black wingtips flew in and lit in front of me. Without pausing to think I said, “Hi, Dad. You found me.” Since then he’s hung around my garden. He always loved tending his own. Now and then he flits through my house. He’s the only butterfly that pays personal visits.

But my story today is about Mom.

She cared for Dad for years as his memory faded and he became less and less able to manage his own needs. Before he died he told her he’d meet her at the Pearly Gates. He’d be standing there holding them open for her when she was ready to join him.

Mom clung to his promise. She rehearsed it for everyone who’d listen. In the three-and-a-half years since he passed, Mom continued to live her life. She played Bingo and often won. Three times a week she exercised on the stationary bikes at Well Camp in the assisted living complex where she had her own apartment. She did armchair yoga on the days the fitness center was closed. Always social, she stayed busy and involved. The staff and residents loved her.

But she missed her partner of sixty-seven years.

Three weeks ago, Mom began weaving her shroud. She sensed it was time. She loved the story of Dad in my garden and told me I would see her with him there soon. I said I was certain of it, that I’d be expecting her.

On August 9th she passed. Yesterday, I caught sight of Dad fluttering above the coral bougainvillea. I scanned the bushes, the trumpet flowers, the heliconia. He shouldn’t be alone now. Where was Mom? From out of nowhere a brilliant white butterfly whirled into view, cavorting, swooping, dancing. She circled the handsome lone stranger three times and seemed ecstatic to be in my garden with him. Then she frolicked off, lighter than air, buoyant, free.

I was left to sort out my misconceptions.

I hadn’t expected a white butterfly. She’d be a near twin of Dad, caramel with black-tipped wings, maybe a tad smaller. I pictured them fluttering together more or less as they had throughout their married lives. But her energy was unlike the proper, dignified mother who raised me. As she looped and dived she had the effervescence of a bubbly teenager. Mom seemed to be fully and completely her own being. She was delighted to see Dad – giddy almost – but no longer dependent upon him for happiness, the picture of embodied freedom.

My sister has been sorting through Mom’s things. When I told her about the butterflies she gasped. Then she laughed and laughed and I knew there were tears pouring down her face. “You’ll never believe what I just found,” she said. She grabbed her phone and sent this photo.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_8719.jpg

Then I, too, laughed and laughed and cried.

This morning I saw Mom again. She was alone, swirling skyward on the dry monsoons that visit Bali this time of year. Dad must be sleeping in.

32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jessawalters
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 14:01:12

    Oh my god, mom. This is your best writing ever. Amazing. What an incredible story. Please get this published in a magazine or book or something!!!!!

    On Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 10:47 PM writing for self-discovery wrote:

    > writingforselfdiscovery posted: ” Image by Prajna Dewantara ॐ I have this > thing about butterflies. Is there a creature anywhere more symbolic of > transformation? A butterfly lives two distinctly different lives: first as > a worm, and second, as a glorious winged being. When it” >

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. stevecastley
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 14:52:38

    Love this.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Lucy
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 16:16:01

    Absolutely stunning, Sherry – your words and the images they evoke.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Anonymous
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 19:28:57

    I’m not sure how I found my way to your blog–Bali, perhaps, which has been my heart’s home for more than twenty years, perhaps–but how lucky I am to have found this piece. It’s so utterly lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Sandra Dee Borg
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 20:40:26

    Simply beautiful….I too love butterflies 🦋…. mine was a Cardinal that appeared and yesterday a persistent little Chickadee- mom’s fave. Ahhhhh…. sorry for your loss. We shall never be the same. Hugs my friend. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 11, 2019 @ 21:10:34

      Thank you, Sandra. I just noticed the GRHS posts and all the old classmates that have offered their condolences. It’s wonderful to hear how Mom was appreciated by so many. I love cardinals, especially when they sit in a snow-covered bush in the winter. They’re so sassy and red!

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  6. Anonymous
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 21:20:59

    Hi Sheri – I was sorry to hear of your mom’s passing, but I know it’s what she wanted as well. I was in Minnesota and visited her on July 30th. She told me about the butterflies! (There was one by her window/bedside)…What a wonderful tribute you have created for her – and just so special that she left the note and Gwen found it!!! Wow!!!… She actually gave me a gift while I was there, a framed stitched piece that your grandmother had. May your momma rest in piece with her loving husband!

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. gigicullins
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 21:21:29

    Such a beautiful story…right out of my life actually. I’m so sorry about your Mom but know your parents are so happy to be together again as are mine. My Mom and Dad were also married 67 years when Dad passed and Mom joined him a little over a year later. I’ve had visits from butterflies often since they passed and hadn’t seen one except in Butterfly World in FL in years prior to their deaths. I’ll PM a selfie I took on Folly Beach in Charleston, SC when visiting my Aunt Gloria last October. Charleston is where my Mom was raised and married my Dad. It was a very windy day and yet the moment I stepped on the beach this butterfly flew towards my face as if to say hi. It danced around in front of my face and I was enchanted as I knew it was a visit instantly. It disappeared in the wind as quickly as it came. It actually startled me initially, but I knew who it was! Being so windy, I didn’t see it again…until I saw the selfie when I was out of the sun. When I saw the photos, I shared my “visit” with Tom and Aunt Gloria who were waiting in the car. They were both amazed.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Jan Borchers
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 23:53:41

    Beautiful and amazing, Sherry ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Nanci Froemming
    Aug 12, 2019 @ 00:02:10

    Oh Sherry, I’m saddened to hear your Mom has passed, but how wonderful to hear she found your dad in your garden and she is happily cavorting about, freely. What a lovely story!

    Liked by 1 person

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 12, 2019 @ 10:19:57

      I’ve gotten so many beautiful stories about visitations by loved ones after their passing as a result of writing this. It could be a figment of the imagination, but too often there is a twist that seems to be a direct message from the beyond. A message that implies, “You thought you knew…Surprise!”

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  10. Kate
    Aug 12, 2019 @ 03:00:03

    Only a person with a deep connection within themselves would notice the miracle in front of her and make the connection. Sherry, you help us take more notice of what is in front of us and can be coincidences … or miracles. I hope your folks meet mine; I believe they would dance together. Peace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 12, 2019 @ 10:41:20

      How lovely, Kate! Thank you. I’d like to take that thought a bit farther…

      In my reality, there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything that happens coincidentally around me has meaning which is the definition of synchronicity – a meaningful coincidence that can only be explained by a phenomenon of energy. Synchronicity feels to me like one step away from a miracle. A miracle, by my definition, is divine intervention to perform a supernatural act. A miracle changes the course of nature: can give sight to the blind, heal the sick, raise the dead. On the other hand, synchronicities happen all around us on a daily basis and it’s up to us to notice. The Universe is there, waiting to support us, willing and ready to answer our questions, capable of opening doors and clearing the path forward. Once we connect energetically to that flow, life takes on new dimensions.

      I have no doubt they’ve met…and they’re dancing!

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  11. Anonymous
    Aug 12, 2019 @ 06:12:48

    Dear Sherry, I opened your post the day of the one year anniversary of my mother’s death. When my father died, many years ago, he returned in the form of a train engine on a dark, cold winter night. Traveling home alone on a twisty, unlit country road, I was stunned by a railroad crossing sign lowering nearly on the hood of my jeep. This was “unused” track, the rails had rusted and the underbrush grown had wildly proliferated. But that night, March 4th, in the cold, deep, my father a railroad switchman “signaled” as only switchmen/signalmen can he was home/safe/doing what he loved and telling me I was loved.

    One of the Persian poets said, “We are only walking one another home”. How rich to glimpse the homeland of our loved and deceased parent (s). Hug, kath

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Anonymous
    Aug 12, 2019 @ 10:47:16

    Love this….all of it. Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. meenawalia
    Aug 12, 2019 @ 17:21:12

    Awesome.The only solace to my grieving heart is also that atleast my parents are together now in heaven.

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  14. Sondra Jackson
    Sep 27, 2019 @ 01:46:02

    Sherry, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you and your family are doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Sondra Jackson
    Oct 09, 2019 @ 00:17:43

    I just saw the lovely photos that you shared of the memorial, the basket was a perfect idea. My parents are in their late 70’s and my mom was just diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia. She and I have never been close as I am the child that no one in my family understands. That being said it will be heartbreaking when I have to say goodbye.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 09, 2019 @ 05:50:51

      I’m sorry to hear you weren’t understood by your mother. Parental relationships are complex at best. Make the most of the time you have with both of them while you can. Once they’re gone there’s no going back.

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