Butterfly Backstory

Around here, the weather is still a bit manic- we had sleet followed by a sunny 60 degree afternoon-but the fact that spring is slowly making its way is unmistakable. There’s a happy feeling of anticipation… and I like it. It echos what buzzing inside my home as well.
 
Liam’s communion is early May- and I have been happily pinning and prepping and enjoying preparing for the big day. It was different with Ryan. When Ryan made his communion 8 years ago, I had just lost my dad about 2 months earlier.
Ryan on his special day- I’m about 4 months expecting!
Needless to say- the thought of doing anything celebratory was heart breaking. The empty chair was too much to bear- but I listened to family and made sure that the day didn’t pass without making it (or at last trying to make it) special for Ryan- so we had a little party at home and I did my best to bring the joy it deserved. Usually, my home seems uncomfortably small when we have the whole family of 30 over- but that day, having the family and their love all around seemed very comforting. Ryan remembers the day as being a great one- and that’s really all that matters.
 
When I started out planing Liam’s communion party a few years later, I thought the missing might hurt less- but it doesn’t.  I guess the milestones really can’t be marked without feeling the loss of those not with us. But at least now, things are not as raw.  Still though, my thoughts keep returning to Dad and wishing her could see the terrific boys he would have enjoyed as his grandsons.
 
I need to stop for a moment and give  you a little back-story:  About a year after Dad passed, I was with my mom at a “psychic dinner”. I guess I was looking for any way I could to connect with him- and it was a casual event at a favorite restaurant.
When I met with this lady, she took my hand and after a long moment she told me things that really, only someone with a gift could know. Details beyond the fact that I had lost my dad- (and she had yet to meet with my mom.) She told me my dad loved the pennies. My heart stopped.
At his service, Ryan, who was just 7 read this poem:

“Pennies from Heaven”

I found a penny today
Just laying on the ground.
But it’s not just a penny
This little coin I’ve found.Found pennies come from heaven
that’s what my Grandpa told me.
He said Angels tossed them down
Oh, how I loved that story!

He said when an Angel misses you
They toss a penny down,
sometimes just to cheer you up
To make a smile out of your frown.

So don’t pass by that penny
When you’re feeling blue.
It may be a penny from heaven
That an Angel’s tossed to you.

 Author: Copyright © 1998 C Mashburn

Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church.  And the night before the service, without telling them why, I had asked several friends to bring pennies to the service and drop them outside the front doors of church. Imagine Ryan walking out of the service that day, the bag pipes breaking our hearts with the sounds of Amazing Grace and seeing thousands of pennies on the ground. We all shared tears at the sight, a bit sweeter now, of the look of joy on Ryan’s face in thinking these were gifts from his Poppy!
 
The reader followed her message about the pennies with this: “The butterflies matter- that is how your dad will show you he is near.” Now, in NYC, butterflies are not an everyday sight- but I can tell you with full faith in my heart- they always seem to fly into my life when I really need them most.
 
Here’s Liam crying on his way to school –
He brought his teddy to wipe his tears 🙁

The day Liam started Nursery school, tears soaked his tiny face and my heart was breaking to leave him in the classroom as he cried behind me asking why was I leaving him.  I stood outside the classroom door, crying myself, wondering if I was doing the right thing. Would they ignore him? would they comfort him? … and then the teacher came out into the hall and brought a chair and told me to stay there so I could hear how soon he would calm down. She gave me a big hug-  a real one- one that lets you feel the caring in another persons heart and she said it would work out. As I hugged her back, I saw a beautiful butterfly necklace around her neck. And I knew it really would be OK.

 
Then there was the September that my sister’s little girl was born. On my way to the hospital, I broke down a little wishing dad was there. I thought to him in my mind- “Dad, I need you to show me you are with us.”  I was almost afraid to ask to see a butterfly because it was September, too cold for such a sight.
Imagine how I felt when we walked into the hospital and saw these posters, on the front door, leading all the way up to the third floor where my sister’s room was:
There have been countless other times that this has happened- and while some may discount it as a heart seeing what it needs to see, I believe with my whole heart that there is a life beyond this one- and that our loved ones are never really gone from us. It’s my faith- on so many levels- it’s a faith I have.
Fast forward to last week.  I ordered Liam’s invites from Tiny Prints. When the first batch arrived, the font on the addresses was a bit too small. I called customer service and they were awesome- they fixed the problem and sent off a new batch with the corrected size and, to my surprise, even stamped them for me as a way of making things right.  Imagine how I felt when I opened the box- and saw this:

 

Butterfly stamps.  I know it’s not just chance- I didn’t even order stamps. I had actually thought hard about the name to put on the invites- and decided to use Liam’s middle name as well, because that was my Dad’s. I guess Dad liked that.
what joy will you create today?

Comments

  1. What a lovely story…. you had me in tears! I just wanted to leave a comment because I too have experienced the kind of things you are talking about. My husband's parents both passed a few years before our daughter was born. Since her birth there have been so many little incidents that I am absolutely convinced they come and visit her. Thanks for sharing your story today!

  2. What a lovely story…. you had me in tears! I just wanted to leave a comment because I too have experienced the kind of things you are talking about. My husband's parents both passed a few years before our daughter was born. Since her birth there have been so many little incidents that I am absolutely convinced they come and visit her. Thanks for sharing your story today!

  3. Yup, you have me in tears again. Thank you for posting this – I love finding my 'pennie's from my Mom…..and looking out for the butterflies, too :).

  4. Yup, you have me in tears again. Thank you for posting this – I love finding my 'pennie's from my Mom…..and looking out for the butterflies, too :).

  5. We lost my 86 year old grandmother last July and my super emotional five year old has been beside herself. Almost daily, then weekly, and now only occasionally does she say she misses Gigi. It breaks my heart to have to repeatedly explain to her that Gigi is in Heaven with Grandpa Fred. I will be sharing this poem with her with the hope that her occasionally penny find will remind her of her Gigi. I know she and my grandpa are watching my girls grow up and that's what gets me through each day. Thank you for sharing this lovely story.

  6. We lost my 86 year old grandmother last July and my super emotional five year old has been beside herself. Almost daily, then weekly, and now only occasionally does she say she misses Gigi. It breaks my heart to have to repeatedly explain to her that Gigi is in Heaven with Grandpa Fred. I will be sharing this poem with her with the hope that her occasionally penny find will remind her of her Gigi. I know she and my grandpa are watching my girls grow up and that's what gets me through each day. Thank you for sharing this lovely story.

  7. Tracy- that's hard. 🙁 I'm sorry for your loss- I do believe that children can be more open to this than many adults. To this day, we will find pennies at some of the oddest times- and even Liam, who did not know my dad will say- "Poppy's thinking of us!" As he picks it up happily in his hands- and we all smile. And that's what's awesome- we remember dad- and we smile. It took a long time for that. The hurt never goes away, but in time the smiles come too…

  8. Tracy- that's hard. 🙁 I'm sorry for your loss- I do believe that children can be more open to this than many adults. To this day, we will find pennies at some of the oddest times- and even Liam, who did not know my dad will say- "Poppy's thinking of us!" As he picks it up happily in his hands- and we all smile. And that's what's awesome- we remember dad- and we smile. It took a long time for that. The hurt never goes away, but in time the smiles come too…

  9. This is beautiful. I got chills reading it. My dad’s name is Charles too so now I’ll always remember your dad’s name. 🙂

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