Once again, death has been on the front burner in our lives. June 30th saw the passing of Christopher's mother, my children's last living grandparent. And a few days ago, Gabriel's beloved chicken Pickles died after being ill for several weeks. Whenever we are faced with death, inevitably it triggers thoughts of Natalie—thoughts and feelings even deeper than the regular, everyday thoughts and feelings.
Today I took an alternate route home, which took me past a funeral home in East Providence. As I took note of its existence, a sudden flood of imagery came to mind, all pictures of death: my mother-in-law in her casket, our dead chicken, and my precious baby Natalie on several occasions: her small lifeless body when I found her on March 18th, at the funeral home, and at the cemetery before she was cremated. Overcome by the sudden intensity of these memories, I burst into tears and cried the rest of the way home.
Earlier today, someone in one of my grief support groups posted an interesting article about how people who don’t believe in God deal with death. It talked about the science of what is proven/known vs. what is not and where faith comes into the picture for many people. It reminded me of the beautiful sermon Pam Gregory gave at Natalie’s memorial service about how physicists know that energy cannot be created or destroyed, just transformed. It gave me tremendous comfort to think that Natalie’s energy and life force did not die, but simply took on a different form. Pam talked about how maybe if we pay close enough attention, we will be able to perceive it.
When I got home and was getting out of the car, which I had parked in the shade of the house right next to Natalie’s garden, a beautiful swallowtail butterfly swooped past and landed on Natalie’s butterfly bush, the first I’ve seen this summer. I couldn’t help but feel an immediate connection to this spectacular creature. Nor could I help wonder if her appearance was not particularly timely and relevant given recent events. I greeted her and remarked how beautiful she was. I thanked her for coming to visit me today.
Hours later when I went back out to the car to pick up Gabriel from camp, a monarch butterfly was flitting about Natalie’s garden. Again, the first one I’ve seen all summer. Again, I greeted her with joy, so happy to see her and, again, I thanked her for coming.
I don’t know if this is Natalie’s energy manifesting to bring me comfort, but I don’t know that it isn’t. And that is why I talk to butterflies.