Over the past 7 months, my Mom and I have been on a journey through life into death. On Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), she crossed the threshold into eternity and the arms of her Beloved….my father; the man she had married 54 years earlier. I am writing this on the afternoon following her service at which I officiated. It was my healing and my honor to offer this to her.
A few months ago, I had asked her what happens when you die…..what awaits on the other side and she said she didn’t know. I asked her to tell me when she knew and she said she would come back and tell me…as a butterfly. On the way to the airport on Friday morning, there was a car in front of us with a butterfly sticker on the rear windshield. On Saturday, I was taking care of banking business and was creating a page where I could monitor her accounts on line. The young man who was setting it up, showed me an icon that had popped up on the page and guess what it was? A butterfly, of course. I laughed and told him why. He said that there were thousands of icons to choose from and that was the first one that came up.
On my flight down, I encountered an angel in human body in the form of a flight attendant named Jewelee (yes that is really her name and she really is a jewel!) who saw that I had SARK’s newest book on my lap called Glad No Matter What which is about healing and loss and grief. I had just interviewed SARK and brought the book along for comfort. She exclaimed “Oh, I love her!” and then walked past. I went back to the galley with the book and loaned it to her while we were flying. I told her why I had it with me and her tears welled up. She told me that a dear friend of hers had died and that she had gotten a tatoo in her honor. I asked what it was and and she hiked up her skirt and showed me a dragonfly on her thigh. Not quite a butterfly, but close:) We hugged and cried together and then a little while later she checked on me and spent the next 30 minutes or so talking to me. No one complained. We are going to stay in touch.
THEN….my Mom’s neighbor Dianne came to pick my sister and me up at the airport and shared a story. She had agreed to give the funeral home the outfit my Mom had wanted to wear; the beautiful suit she wore for their 50th anniversary vow renewal that I had the joy of officiating 4 years ago.It was hanging on the back of the door of the den. Well, Dianne had forgotten to give it to them and went about, with another neighbor Myrna, tidying up.Myrna says to Dianne…”That door to the den just closed by itself.” and she was too freaked out to go in, so Dianne did. She laughed when she saw that the outfit was still on the door and Myrna said “That was just Selma reminding me about the suit.” Dianne then got it over to the funeral home.
Last night, I was at Starbucks; my ‘office’ equipped with free wifi, and heard the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” followed by Gotta Get Back by Shelby Lynne with the word “butterflies’ in the lyrics. While on facebook, I saw that a friend had posted a picture of her Christmas tree and the prominent decorations were…butterflies, of course.
Today, as my sister and I were pulling up to the chapel, we saw a butterfly dancing over the building. Prior to the service, we were greeted by one of my Mom’s hospice nurses who loved pins. My Mom had given her a few of them and the one she wore today? Decorated with the winged wonders. After the service, we drove to the grave side and were escorted by a host of butterflies. As I was offering prayers before they lowered my mother’s coffin into the waiting earth, another hovered above. Even as I am immersed in grief, I am heartened by the certainty that she is soaring freely and that my heart is now ready to fly with her.
So, I am living my new life as an ‘adult orphan’ but feeling a sense of calm that comes from a certainty that both of my parents are well. I am also relieved that I won’t be waiting for the phone to ring with the news. I am on slow mode now and will be taking the week off to regroup before getting back to ‘normal’ routine, although I will be creating a new sense of ‘normal.’
If you would like to make a donation in my Mom’s name (Selma Weinstein) there are three charities we are supporting.
VITAS Innovative Hospice Care® of Broward County
5420 Northwest 33rd Avenue, Suite 100Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309
Deborah Heart and Lung Hospital
200 Trenton Road Browns Mills, NJ 08015
Twilight Wish Foundation (grants wishes to senior citizens):
Twilight Wish Foundation
P.O. Box 1042
Doylestown, PA 18901