Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Blue Butterfly

A few weeks after my mother died, I received a card in the mail from one of her friends, Nancy.


Nancy wrote how her mother Anna shared my mom's love of the color blue and how her mother was close to butterflies.   After her own mother's passing, Nancy found great comfort when she would see a butterfly and could feel her mother's goodness and blessings in those moments.

Inside the note she had tucked a handkerchief of her mother's.  It was embroidered with a blue butterfly, intended to wipe my tears and to remind me that there would be many times in my life that I would, once again, feel my mother's grace.



I kept it out for a long time until one day it seemed time to put it away in a treasure box for safekeeping.  And it stayed there, out-of-sight, out-of-mind...

Until two years ago.

On Labor Day in 2012, I was vacationing at the beach with my family when I had a seizure.

It happened early in the morning while I was getting a drink of water.  I had never had one before and the men were all asleep when Jim heard me hit the bathroom floor.  I'm pretty sure I frightened the heck out of Jim, Jack and my Dad that morning...what a way to wake up!  They did what any right-minded men would do...and got me to the closest regional urgent care center.

Jim stayed with me for hours while I was evaluated and slept.   I was dreadfully tired and felt like my brain had run a marathon.  After four hours of observation and tests, they found nothing immediately wrong and discharged me, instructing me to follow up with my physician when I got home.

It was midday when Jim and I walked back through the waiting room, my arm tucked through his elbow for support.  The waiting area was completely empty except for the sound of our feet crossing the linoleum floor.  

How strange it felt to see an empty emergency room...it's almost an oxymoron: empty emergency room...and it added to the surrealism of my already fuzzy brain.

We stepped slowly toward the automatic door, Jim taking great care with his wife who seemed to be more fragile than he might have thought just 24 hours before.  The door opened for us and we began to walk through but pulled up short when we saw what was on the ground in front of our feet.

There on the sidewalk, smack dab in the middle of our path was a black and blue butterfly. 


Quite still and gently pulsing its wings, it seemed to be waiting for us.  

We might have stepped on it if we'd been moving at our normal pace but this day we were walking more slowly to match the cadence of my tired brain.

It was so strange to see a butterfly surrounded by all that concrete and asphalt...so out of place that we did nothing but pause and take it all in.   "Wow." Jim said.

Like a sunbeam, it warmed us and its beauty and glory were part of our world.  

It wasn't frightened by our presence and sat long enough for the event to be remarkable in our memory.

Then it started to flit about like a flower on the wind, dancing around and around the two of us and kissing me on the shoulder before it flew away. We watched it go until it was no more.

When we finally turned to look at one another, a knowing passed between us.  It was her.  My mother.  Come to tell us everything was alright.  

The butterfly displayed her favorite shade of blue and the visit was too extraordinary to be anything different.  

I never told anyone until today.  I thought no one would believe it...and I'm not sure we would have believed it either had we not been there together.   

When I got home, I looked up what type of butterfly it had been, not recognizing it as one that I had seen very often.  

Papilio Troilus...


The Spicebush Swallowtail...



As time went on, I put that story away too, until my BNF (blogging needle friend), Gerry Krueger, asked me to embroider a butterfly for her.

See, Gerry is heading to the International Quilt Festival in Houston where her quilt, It's a Man's World Unless Women Vote!, is a finalist in the 2014 IQA fall judged show, Quilts: A World of Beauty. Woot!! Woot!!

I had the honor of watching Gerry's quilt come to life on her blog, Older Rose over the course of the past year or so and it is a brilliant piece of work.



As is Gerry!

She's a naturalist, a bird lover, quilter, a teacher, a humorist, a dog lover, an embroiderer, and a conservationist and the list goes on and on!

This woman who has a rich and accomplished history herself created a quilt to honor all the suffragettes who fought for our right to vote.



And she is headed to Houston in a few weeks to see her quilt hang in a juried show.  It's a big event for anyone but for Gerry it's monumental.  And for me too. 

Because she's taking me with her!

Gerry is making a Vest of Resplendence, a Coat of Many Colors, a garment worthy of a grand occasion...and she's piecing it and embroidering it with all the motifs that are important to her...and that is where I fit in.  

I will not be in her suitcase but I will be there in the spirit of this blue butterfly who will light on her vest.  And I will see her quilt hanging there and I will dance when she dances and bring all the beauty and glory to the moment that only this spicy swallowtail can bring.


And she will be glorious.  

Not just because of her quilt or her garment, although they're pretty glorious.  

But because of all the women who made it possible...all those who suffered and fought and cried and fought some more...and all the women who honor them...and all the women who bring us to this moment...our prededessors,  the pioneers, our mothers...They will all be there.

As will my mother, my mother's friend Nancy and her mother Anna...the women who helped me make a blue butterfly, a Spicebush Swallowtail, to dance for Gerry and her quilt.


Bravo Gerry!!

P.S.  As for the seizure thing, I'm fine.  Evidently, there's a 1 in 10 chance that a person will have one seizure in their lifetime.  I've had mine.

37 comments:

Allison Aller said...

...and Bravo, Susan!

Maura said...

Another amazing experience, memory, and profound and beautifully told story. <3

Judy S. said...

Another fabulous post, Susan. I'm so glad your seizure turned out to be nothing; our younger daughter had a similar experience and was diagnosed with adult onset epilepsy. (She was walking home from work with a friend and collapsed.) Fortunately it's under control now, and thankfully it wasn't a brain tumor.You must have scared Jim half to death! Love that butterfly!

Irene Pieters said...

The story about the butterfly brings tears to my eyes, we are guarded by our loved ones!

susiew said...

What a beautiful post Susan ... you have captured our friend Gerry just perfectly. I can feel your love for her, your Mom and all the women who have preceded us. Your description of Gerry's quilt and accomplishment brought tears to my eyes .... I could feel your joy in sharing the moment with her. Gerry has been my idol for a long time and you, my dear are moving onto that list too! Thanks for your moving words .....
SusieW

Marty52 said...

So glad you are OK and that your Mom is still watching over you.

Sheila Iskin said...

Congratulations to Gerry! What an accomplishment for her, and a timely reminder for the rest of us with elections coming up! Her quilt looks wonderful!

I'm so glad you are okay. What a scary event for your whole family. That's a neat story about the butterfly, and your mother. You've embroidered a beautiful symbol to send along with your friend on her journey.

I'm reading a book about planning for the next five years, and it's kind of remarkable the changes that can be wrought over a (relatively short) period of time when the spirit is willing.

Anyway, lovely post. :)

Mouse said...

simply amazing from start to finish ... they say as well a robin is sent from above to see you and say hello ... I always say hello back :) love mouse xxxx

Kathy F said...

Hopefully we all pause in life for these moments that REALLY matter. Thank you for sharing!! Peace...Kathy

Robbie said...

What a WONDERFUL post!!!!

deb* said...

Lovely and heartfelt.....thank you for sharing.

Anne Marie - Toronto said...

I echo the "bravo"! I have a tear in my eye and a smile on my lips! They always manage to make themselves known, when you need them the most!! You just never know when, why and where!

Cathy Kizerian said...

What a thoroughly enchanting post! We will all be there in spirit to cheer Gerry on! Your butterfly will be lovely on Gerry's amazing jacket.

Lisa Boni said...

Wonderful! Your lovely butterfly will join mine on Gerry's amazing vest of many colors! So glad that the seizure appears to have been a one time thing for you ~ prayers it continues as such!

Createology said...

I so believe in the power of our experiences. Thank God and Angels that you are doing well. A beautiful blue butterfly...very special and profound. My daughter believes her father sends her ladybugs when she needs them most. Heartwarming Blessings Dear...
Gerry is amazing and her work is beyond amazing.

margaret said...

what a wonderful story and u=yes I am sure that butterfly was sent by your Mother, Good to read that you are okay too after that fright you had. I loved Gerry`s quilt and her jacket is so out of this world and will be even more so with the love you have put into the butterfly. Hurray am able to comment today the window has been playng up and not opening the comment box

Teresa said...

I love reading your stories. They're beautifully told, they touch a place in my heart. I had a similar experience with my mother this year when my son was in an induced coma for eight days with swine 'flu. I put her Rosary Beads on his bed & I immediateky knew he'd be okay, my darling mother assured me of that and not once did I fear he wouldn't be. People commented on my strength but I knew what they didn't.

Estella Star of the East said...

What a wonderful story, Susan, thank you so much for sharing.
Your friend's quilt is gorgeous, and the suffragettes were heroes, but...it is still a man's world.
Politics are made in the home, really.

cucki said...

So sweet x

coral-seas said...

Your posts are always beautiful and touch me in so many ways. I had a similar visitation from my beloved grandmother. I did not say anything at the time because there were several people there and I thought they might think me a bit doolally but later I started to tell my mother, who was also there. Before I had finished telling she smiled and said "I know what you are going to say - I felt her too - it was Gladys"

We are blessed to have been loved by such women and doubly blessed that their love could still reach out to us after they have gone.

At the greatest blessing is that you are fine!

Leigh k said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. How wonderful to have your mom come to you..I believe in your butterfly.

Padparadscha said...

What a beautiful story, and your butterfly is amazing <3

Padparadscha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gigi knits said...

My mom to was a lover of blue and was the sweetest kindness mother anyone could ever ask for..
I know she also come to visit me & her grandkids by way of a butterfly. The little ones call butterflys Grandma!
She has been gone for over 10 yrs. now but I see & feel her love everyday..

Beth Ferrier said...

Susan,
You break my heart in such a glorious way. Thank you for giving me permission to believe again, that the universe does speak to us, we just have to listen.

Francesca said...

Loved to read your story and I'm very touched ... happens me too sometimes to have a white butterfly that comes to visit me, I like to think is Dad.
All the best, F.

Yankee Dimes said...

Thank you for sharing this! I lost my mom in late May. she also loved butterflies and so my sister and I were not surprised whe a yellow swallowtail seemed to spend the whole summer with us. I even made two memory quilts with patchwork butterflies in them for both of us.

Last night my dreams were filled with butterflies and then your blog post today...Mom said these "Godincedences" always come in threes so one more to go!

Suztats said...

wow, a wonder-filled post, Susan! May your butterfly dance!

Moonsilk Stitches said...

This post really touched me. Thank you for shavpring, your blue butterfly is lovely.

Rachel said...

Love the butterfly - both the real and the embroidered one - gorgeous!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

A metaphysical story. I'm all about that. A Blue Butterfly could be nothing else. WHO EVER SEES A BLUE BUTTERFLY!!!!

xx, Carol

Mosaic Magpie said...

I believe your mother was there that day, I believe it from the bottom of my heart and I am happy you were able to feel her presence.
The butterfly is beautiful and will be a nice addition to Gerry's jacket. I am so happy for her, she is so deserving of this honor.
xo,
Deb

CathieJ said...

What a beautiful story. Your mother was definitely there just when you needed her. The stitching is beautiful.

Renee said...

Such a great story! Your butterfly for Gerry is beautiful.

Stitches said...

What a beautiful post and an equally beautiful butterfly. Very inspiring. Our family has a connection with a cardinal, so many times when we are together a cardinal appears and will sit and sing to us..sometimes when I am working in the yard, it will be there for the longest time..we really believe that it is my husband, visiting and giving us hope!! Thinks like this are always inspiring..

Christine Barnsley said...

What a beautiful post and a fabulous butterfly! :) x

SuperMomNoCape said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I do believe that those who have passed on are able to reach out and touch our lives.

The stitching you did on the butterfly is amazing. I'm sure that Gerry will treasure it.

And thanks so much for linking up to last week's Stitchery Link Party so that others could read this lovely story as well. I do hope that you'll come link up again.

Related Posts with Thumbnails