Waiting With Gabriel

What if you knew the baby you were carrying was fated to die at birth?

BY: Amy Kuebelbeck


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Just as quickly it was off again, flying around the side of the house and out of my view. Stunned and covered with goosebumps on that steamy August day, I had two instantaneous thoughts, the kind you have to struggle to translate into words. That butterfly somehow represented Gabriel, sending a message to me. And its delicate flight was like that of a satellite that dips just close enough to the gravitational pull of a star to gather power to fling itself even further into the universe.

Could the flight of that butterfly help explain Gabriel's life? Did he gather energy from his brief visit here?

Not until later did it occur to me that the butterfly's asymmetrical left and right sides might somehow symbolize Gabriel's heart. Only then did I realize that the butterfly had landed directly over my own.

I always thought butterflies were used as a sort of saccharine greeting-card sentiment about death. I would have infinitely preferred that Gabriel stay in his cocoon on earth with the rest of us, thank you very much.

I didn't learn until more than a year later that many people report (or keep to themselves for fear of being thought crazy) unusual experiences with butterflies following the death of a loved one. The Compassionate Friends group uses a butterfly as its symbol, featuring one on the cover of its magazines. Other people report unusual coincidences involving eagles or even red cardinals.

Maybe they're not coincidences.

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