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My Mom loved butterflies especially the Monarch butterfly. She tried to have plants in her garden that would attract butterflies. There are three butterfly moments that are indelibly imprinted on my mind when it comes to Mom and her butterflies.

My Mom was born to be a teacher. Instead she got married at seventeen and raised five children with my Dad. When the youngest child was in school Mom got a job as a teacher’s aide. She had some wonderful teachers to work with and they were more then happy to share teaching duties with Mom. One day after work Mom asked me if I could write her a poem on where butterflies go when it rains. She wanted to introduce her students to poetry. I wrote this poem for her and she loved it.

Where Do Butterflies Go When It Rains?

Where do butterflies go when it rains?
When the drops fall gently from the sky?
Do they hide
Or play catch with the drops?
Where do butterflies go when it rains?

Where do butterflies go when the sun shines?
When the rays stream from on high?
Do they fly
Or slide down sunbeams?
Where do butterflies go when the sun shines?

Where do butterflies go when they're sad?
When they hurt and there's no place to hide?
Do they cry
Or bravely try to smile?
Where do butterflies go when they're sad?

When do butterflies go when they die?
When they no longer color our skies?
Do they care
Or do they miss our earth?
Where do butterflies go when they die?

At the time I wrote the poem Mom was robust and in good health. She could go like a house on fire all day long. This is the Mom I see in my dreams. I see a healthy Mom with a straight back and unlimited energy.

A massive heart attack almost cost my Mom her life. Her health started declining from that time forward. Dad’s sudden death in 1999 accelerated that decline. As her heart weaken the congestive heart failure made it more and more difficult for Mom to get around. Her weight dropped to 94 pounds. Her once straight back became more and more curved under the Scoliosis. Her hands became crippled with arthritis.

The second of the butterfly incidents happened after I had become Mom’s caregiver. She was sitting in the recliner holding her cat Pixie who refused to get up. I sat on the couch next to the chair and we talked about a fantasy short story collection I was writing. My main character, Sean, is a Bard. Mom suggested that he tell a story of a crippled child and a special butterfly. Later that evening as I was sitting at my computer I wrote Mom’s story. Sean tells the story to a young boy and his grandfather. It fit perfectly in what I was doing with that particular part of the book. The story, Crystal Reflections, was the final story in that particular book. After I finished that story I gave the book to Mom to read. Mom loved the stories when she read them and was so happy that I followed her suggestion for the butterfly story.

Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in a pretty cottage. The little boy’s room faced a beautiful garden. He would sit in his window seat and watch the butterflies as they flitted from flower to flower. The little boy thought that the butterflies were the prettiest things he had ever seen. One day a beautiful black and orange butterfly came and sat on the windowsill. “Hello little boy. I often see you sitting inside looking out at us. Why don’t you come out and play?” the butterfly said.

“Oh I can’t,” said the little boy. “I can’t walk good and I tire so easily. My mother says I need to stay inside.”

The butterfly flew inside the little boy’s room and sat on the dresser. He could see that the little boy was crippled and could only move around with the aid of crutches. “I understand,” said the butterfly. “We could still be friends though if you would like.”

“I would like that,” said the boy,” I have never had a friend. How come you can talk? I didn’t know butterflies could talk.”

“That is because I am the Monarch butterfly and King of my kind,” the butterfly said. “I am magical.”

The boy smiled. “Oh how wonderful!” he exclaimed. “I know someone who is magical.”

The butterfly came back day after day to see the boy. He could tell that the boy was very ill. The Monarch butterfly would tell the boy tales of places he had seen. The boy loved the butterfly’s stories.

As time passed the boy became weaker and weaker and there came a time when he could no longer get out of bed. One afternoon after the boy had fallen asleep the butterfly went in search of the boy’s mother. She was sitting at the kitchen table with her head on her arms and tears streaming down her cheeks. The butterfly landed softly on her arm. The woman lifted her head and looked down at the butterfly.

“You are the one who has been talking to my son aren’t you?” she asked the butterfly.

“Yes I have,” the butterfly replied. “You know he is dying don’t you?”

“I know,” she answered. “His life has been so hard. He was born crippled and never had the chance to do things little boys should do. His father walked out because he couldn’t cope with a son that wasn’t perfect.”

“Do you believe in magic?” the butterfly asked.

“I never did before but then my son kept talking about this magical butterfly and I wanted to believe for his sake,” the mother said.

“I can tell you love your child,” the butterfly said. “Do you love him enough to let him go?”

“Death will take him soon,” the mother said. “Do you have something better to offer?”

“I do but I will need to take him far away from here and you will never see him again,” the butterfly said, “but it is the only place where he will be able to live.”

“Where will you take him?” the woman asked.

“The place where butterflies live forever in peace and beauty,” the Monarch butterfly answered.

“Take him,” the woman said softly.

“You will be lonely without him,” the butterfly said. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. If I knew he was happy and well then those memories will sustain me through my loneliness,” the woman said.

The butterfly flew up and gently touched the woman’s cheek. The woman would say in the years that followed that she had been kissed by the butterfly.

The butterfly flew into the boy’s room and landed on his hand. The boy woke and smiled weakly.

“Your mother said you could come with me,” the butterfly said.

The boy looked over towards the doorway where his mother stood. She smiled at him and said, “Go with him my love.”

The boy smiled back at her. “What do I need to do?” he asked the butterfly.

“Nothing, just follow me,” the butterfly replied. As the butterfly left the boy’s hand the boy turned into a beautiful butterfly. The Monarch butterfly led the new butterfly out the window and they flew to a land that was so beautiful that it has become the land of dreams.

It is the third butterfly incident that lives in my heart. My Dad had been planting a bush when he keeled over and was dead from a massive heart attack before he hit the ground. Mom said that as she was watching the paramedics try to revive Dad that she knew he was gone. She said at that moment a Monarch butterfly landed on the bush Dad had planted. Mom said she knew then that it was Dad’s way of telling her that he was all right and would meet her in Heaven. She said a great sense of peace came over her. Mom was a very religious person and she believed strongly in Heaven and that she would join her loved ones there. I hope Mom got her Heaven and that it is full of butterflies. I did this picture yesterday in her memory. It is called Where Butterflies Go When It Rains. It is my Mother’s Day present for her. Maybe butterflies can bring it to her in Heaven. I miss you Mom.

Where Butterflies Go When It Rains

Originally posted to CareGiving Kos on Wed May 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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