the whisper of butterfly wings…

two days ago, this flutter of blue whooshed past my studio window. i took several photos of this gorgeous butterfly, but i like this one the best. it looks like a wild impressionist watercolor. essence of butterfly.

i talked to my dear friend kernie yesterday. (my print, “kernie in spring” is named after her.)

kernie has a story to tell about blue butterflies. She just lost her oldest and best childhood friend, shern, to cancer this past summer.

on the day shern died, blue butterflies started appearing everywhere.

there was a blue butterfly hair pin kernie found by the bed and couldn’t put away as she cleaned shern’s room that afternoon. later on they all noticed a swirl of blue butterflies flying ’round and ’round shern’s porch… fleeting blue “hellos” sent from shern to her family and kernie. and as kern went to leave that afternoon, a lone blue butterfly was waving to her from her windshield.

days later, a blue butterfly flew into kernie’s house on the front of a card written by a sweet neighbor. (kern had not told her about the blue butterfly visitations.) and on the morning of the funeral, kern was telling one of their best highschool girlfriends about the butterflies. terry gasped and left the room returning with her outfit. “look, what i’m wearing today…,” she cried. an irridescent blue butterfly pin shimmered on her dress.

kernie told me yesterday that she went out to shern’s house deep in the woods by the river to help her two little girls get ready for their first motherless day of school. kernie hadn’t said anything to them yet about their mother’s blue butterflies.

“how are the girls?” i asked.

“they seem stunned,” kernie answered. “but i think they’re managing. oh,but curlin…something amazing happened. shern’s daughter knew exactly what she wanted to wear on her first day and she had the outfit all laid out on her bed. she took me into her room to show me. oh curlin, her little shirt…right on the front…it had a big blue butterfly across it.”

i wonder how many other people have lost loved ones who now speak to them in swoop of a mockingbird or in the rustle of a lizard on chartreuse sweet potato vine?

my mother, phoebe, speaks to me in dolphins. (and in gardenias, but that’s a story for a different day.)

seven years ago, we scattered my mother’s ashes in the surf off the island where my family has vacationed for the last 30 years. As we walked out of the surf, a pod of bottlenose dolphins suddenly appeared and began leaping and playing in the very same spot…as if to welcome my mother and guide her gently into the sea she loved so much. since then, on every family beach trip, i’ll catch a glimmer of phoebeness in the surf. Or, here at home, a dolphin image will leap out of the smooth surface of an ordinary day. it’s my mother’s way of letting me know she’s with me.

if my readers have similar stories, i’m hoping they’ll share them here in the pippingtooth journal. if you have a story to share, click on the word, “comments” at the bottom of this entry.

oh, and next time you see a blue butterfly, if you think of it, will you say a little “hello, shern” just in case. i think she might be on a tour of beautiful gardens after the long hard year she’s had.

6 Responses to “the whisper of butterfly wings…”

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for the beautiful story about the blue butterflies; I too lost a friend this summer and have been looking for a sign of her, a dream or a random quick sighting on a street somewhere or in a passing car; maybe I am looking in the wrong way; I am going to refocus, thanks, Hannelore

  2. Curlin Reed Sullivan

    hi hannelore,

    i’m so glad this story meant so much to you. let me know if you begin to see little signs from your friend. i had no idea you had just lost a dear friend. i have to wonder if your sweet friend had a hand in guiding you to pippingtooth and this particular journal entry. just the possibility of it is kinda wonderful…
    see you soon, curlin

  3. Kim

    Hi Curlin:

    I loved the story about the butterfly. My grandmother died last year at the age of 100. She was the most important person in my life. Her kind spirit and pleasant manner stood as a model for me and I truly miss her. Whenever I hear a door open unexpectedly and a small breeze follows I always call out “Hello, Annie”. It will be so wonderful when some day I can see that door open and walk to the other side and give her a giant hug. Isn’t it funny how we find comfort in thinking that the departed are with us? I feel lucky that I spent the last year of my grandmothers life visiting her constantly and hearing her talk about her life from beginning to end.

  4. Curlin Reed Sullivan

    hi kim,
    loved hearing about your grandmother. my grandmother died at age 99 and whenever i see a cardinal i say a little, “hello, boo.”

    (oh, and about that deleted post…your message posted twice, so i deleted one copy above)

    ps. i’m so glad to see you in the garden this morning!