My Butterfly Story
Friday, March 19, 2010
For those of you who know my family and me, you likely know that butterflies are very special to us. For the last 10 years, we have taken much joy in seeing butterflies. We have butterflies all over our house and cabin, and we put up a Christmas tree every holiday season that is adorned with angel and butterfly ornaments.
One of the reasons butterflies are so special to us is that when our daughter Caylin was born, she was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Children with EB are called “Butterfly Children” because EB is described as a skin condition in which the skin is so fragile, it is like butterfly wings.
But butterflies also represent the soul, faith, beauty, transformation and hope. I found a beautiful explanation on the “whats-your-sign/butterfly-animal-symbolism” website. Here’s what it said:
“The butterfly unquestioningly embraces the changes of her environment and her body. This unwavering acceptance of her metamorphosis is also symbolic of faith. The butterfly beckons us to keep our faith as we undergo transitions in our lives. She understands that our toiling, fretting and anger are useless against the turning tides of nature—she asks us to recognize the same. We are all on a long journey of the soul.
“On this journey, we encounter endless turns, shifts and conditions that cause us to morph into ever-finer beings. At our soul-journey’s end, we are inevitably changed, not at all the same as when we started on the path. We look again to the grace and eloquence of the butterfly and realize that our journey is our only guarantee. Our responsibility is to make our way in faith, accept the change that comes, and emerge from our transitions as brilliantly as the butterfly.” WOW!!!
After our sweet Caylin passed away, we took much comfort in butterfly sightings. The day Jason showed me the property where we would build our cabin, we were greeted by a little butterfly that fluttered around us and even seemed to be leading us around the lot. The butterfly stayed with us the entire time as if to show us our “happy place” where our family would make beautiful memories.
One glorious April morning about nine years ago—April 24, 2001 to be exact—the sun was shining brightly, and the weather was warm. I received a phone call from a doctor in Philly who had been working on identifying whether the amniotic sample from the baby inside me contained the genetic mutations Jason and I carry for EB. The baby did not have my genetic mutation, which meant that worst-case scenario the baby would be a carrier (like Jason and me) of EB but would not be affected by EB.
I was so excited and couldn’t wait to call Jason with the news, but he was at work and out on a fire run. And then for each person I called after him, I got no answer, just voicemail. I was overjoyed with the news but couldn’t reach anyone to share it. I worked pretty close to home, so I decided to go home for lunch to reflect.
When I got home, I stepped out on my deck to enjoy the warm sun and rested my arm on the railing. I looked down, and the teeniest, tiniest butterfly landed next to me. I stood very still, and the butterfly hopped up on my finger. She stayed there for a few seconds, then hopped off of my finger and onto the railing, made a couple more jumps and flew away. I believe with every fiber of my being that butterfly was sent by Caylin. She knew I needed someone to share the news with so she sent a little butterfly to me, as if she were saying to me, “See Momma, everything is going to be alright. Now smile and be happy.”
As I was thinking about sharing this story, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would close the post. I thought that since I haven’t seen a real butterfly for over six months, I didn’t have a way to tie it all together. Since this post was supposed to be in April and I may or may not have had a visit from a butterfly, I thought that I could say something like this, “Although I haven’t seen a butterfly yet, I know my little Caylin will send another butterfly my way as a little gift to me and as a reminder that she again would tell me, ‘See Momma, everything is going to be alright. Now smile and be happy.’” And then I would share that my scans showed no canser.
Last night, a friend stopped by with a gift that made her think of me. We talked for a few minutes and after she left I unwrapped the gift and what fell into my hands took my breath away: A pewter butterfly ornament with the inscription “For With God, All Things Are Possible.” I guess my little angel didn’t want me to have to wait until April when the butterflies return to send me a message.
As I looked to my kitchen window and surrounding shelves, I saw other butterfly gifts that had been given to me recently: The porcelain ornament from my mom, the glass ornament from my aunt, the music box from my mother-in-law and the rock from my sister-in-law. Each was given to me as an expression of their love for me and to symbolize hope, miracles and strength as I have embraced the transformation a canser* diagnosis has brought to my life!
Whatever struggle you may be going through, please know God will provide you with the strength, faith and hope to endure, embrace and grow from your challenges, heartaches or disappointments. He will send people, trinkets and songs but most importantly His Word to remind us of His everlasting love and care.
We are each asked to be vessels to share and spread God’s love. And, as my friend and I discussed last night when I called to thank her for the butterfly, if God nudges you to share His loving kindness, don’t ignore the nudge because your act of kindness may prove to be a precious gift delivered at the most perfect time. Now smile and be happy.
Holding my head high and fighting like a cowgirl,
*Sharyl intentionally misspelled the word “cancer” to negate its power.