“Seeing a butterfly is one thing, but to have it land on you… That’s a sure sign it’s a message from the heavenly realm. Most of the time the message from your deceased loved one is, ‘I am alive and well and have not forgotten you. I love you.’” -From “Butterflies Meaning & Messages” by Blair Robertson
Last year in my August writing, I talked about how my mom came to me in butterfly form, black and white, and sat on my arm. I said that for years “Grandma Butterfly” has appeared in my daughter Jen’s garden in Monarch form. I stated that I believe she came to me because I finally “got it”. Like my dad, my husband hasn’t been in good medical condition. I felt that mom waited all this time to appear to me for a reason.
As you know, I’m a gardener. My time in the garden planting, weeding, watering, is my alone time. It’s my therapy. I have a special stone for mom there and I am able to fuss and plant orange flowers around it. My gardens are vast. This year, both in my front and back gardens, I planted milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies as well as Monarda and other plants to attract to attract bees and butterflies.
With Bill’s medical conditions becoming more complicated, and with our aging, I begin to think of if we can stay in our home or if, one day, we’ll have to move. This parallels Mom’s situation. My parents owned their home for over 30 years. It was a large 2-story that, while paid off, was too much for mom to manage even before Dad died. At one point, she found a cute little house that would suit her well but because of her depression, was unable to proceed on her own to purchase it.
I’m describing a woman who, at one time, managed 2 children (my sister and my aunt) while my dad was in WW II for 4 years. She’d had a rough time after her mom died when mom was 16. She managed but carried that throughout her life. Mom was a vibrant, smart, kind woman who was active in life when I was growing up. But life itself presented some challenges that added to her shaky foundation. She depended on my dad as a partner and someone with whom to confer.
My dad died; her first and only prior attempt was 4 months later. I moved away. She had an unwanted job change. She found a bit of joy when she found a house she liked but then didn’t know how to proceed to purchase it. Her minister who’d been counseling her suggested she seek more help and recommended a psychologist who was out-of-town when she called to make an appointment. (Note: in those days, one did not go on a waiting list for months as happens today.)
The week-end of Labor Day in 1979 she was to go to her sister’s. Her sister told her she “could no longer handle your depression.” It all came tumbling down, and she took her life somewhere during that week-end.
In 2015, I learned that mom was a ghost at Bardwell School. I’ve written about that. I’ve talked with teachers, the librarian, and the then principal who had all seen her and had wonderful stories to tell. I went to visit Bardwell several times hoping to “see” or “feel” her but, alas, the connection wasn’t made. As I mentioned earlier, Mom has appeared as a butterfly to Jennifer and, to her son, Ryan. Jen has pictures of her landing on them for small bits of time. You’d only have to know Jennifer to know how much Mom would’ve loved to have her for a daughter. She certainly lit up whenever she saw Jennifer who referred to her grandma as “Beebop”. Jennifer, too, lit up when she saw mom. Jennifer was 3 when mom died.
Mom, in Monarch form, now comes to me. She’s in my backyard. Every day. Scientists would say it’s because of the milkweed. I can agree but I go deeper. As my life seems more parallel to hers, AND I RECOGNIZE THAT, she comes to me because I get it. I think of her so very much and of her struggles.
As survivors, we think of “them” all the time. Yes, 42 years later, she is with me more than ever. She is here when I need her the most.
My interpretation of the events I’ve written of above give me great comfort. Just as you do, I will always carry a small bit of the guilt. Always. Yet, I balance that with “seeing” her now and with memories of good times with her. I cannot let the guilt define my life or the manner of death define hers. There was so much love. There was so much fun. There are so many wonderful memories.
Try to balance your grief. Suicide occurs when the burdens grow beyond a person’s ability to manage them. We, as survivors, carry them with us and learn what to do or where to go for help when our burdens begin to pile up. They didn’t want to take us with them. They simply could not manage one more day.
We survive. We will survive. We have one another. We have “them” within us and in whatever form they come to us. Perhaps next month she’ll land on me – just for a moment – maybe that Labor Day week-end…