Why butterflies are so special to me

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

*Trigger Warning* loss

My grandmother always loved butterflies. She knew the different species and would almost always wear a pin, sweater or scarf with a butterfly on it. When Gram passed away, we covered the church in butterflies and when one would fly by, we always knew it was her saying hello. Since then, more loved ones have passed away, the butterfly has remained a beautiful and happy symbol of their memory.

Most recently, someone died who should not have. I debated whether to share this on the blog or not, but it is not something that I can simply ignore and continue writing about exercise, healthy living and mommyhood without honoring my precious little nephew.

My sister gave birth to two beautiful twins on June 13th. Willow chose to arrive first weighing around 5 lbs and William "Liam" arrived on the next wave of contractions and was born immediately after at around 3 lbs. These babies decided to be born at 33 weeks, so they were taken to the NICU to be monitored. They were strong. They gained weight well and were already breathing on their own. Soon, they checked all the boxes they needed to check and were passing milestones, so they were released at 39 weeks.

Amy twinsMy sister, her husband and their two older daughters got to enjoy 4 amazing months with these twins. Willow and Liam continued to thrive and change everyday. Mr Liam was even developing the sweetest personality as he smiled a lot and made the most delicious expressions. He was born to be a charmer.

Then, the rug gets swept out from under your feet.

On a Monday evening in October, Liam went down for a nap, and never woke back up. SIDS is an ugly mystery. It appears to be the reason little Liam just stopped breathing.

This is not happening. It is not possible. This is the worst nightmare and surely we'll wake up.... Please, this simply can. not. be.

But it happened.

"It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things." Lemony Snicket

Every parent that loses their child questions, "Why, why, why." For the rest of their lives. There is no answer, there are no words.

So what do you do? You come together as a family.

We all drove long distance or flew to be with my sister and her family, immediately. Simply being together to hug, cry and hug some more helped when the moment seemed hopeless.

It reinforced the importance (as if I needed it) of family, whether biological or those that become family, as a force of strength, security and peace. Keep these people around you close. Tend to those relationships as you would tend to a garden, with great care, attention and a whole lot of love. They keep you thriving and breathing when it's tough to do both.

When the time was right, we organized our own Celebration of Liam's life.  This was such an imporant job, since every single life, no matter the duration, must be celebrated.  He certainly touched our lives and made a huge impact in his four months here on earth.  When moments like this happen, it makes us all pause and really notice the good stuff.  How silly it seems to grumble over trivial things.  Are they what make us truly happy?  Quiet down the noise, strip away the extras and get down to the heart of it all.  No matter where you are from, from each end of the earth, human connection, compassion and love is what glues us together. Life is life, and love is love, no matter how large or small.   

Amy Baby thumb suckWe celebrated sweet Liam's life by listening to my sister and her husband talk.  And cry.  My mom read the 23rd Psalm, my aunt read  "Goodnight Moon."  I read a passage titled "If I were here, what would I say." by Lorraine Lehman-Jones.  The very end of this reading is what struck me the most.  It mentions that baby Liam, in his short time with us, only knew Love.  That is the only emotion he felt or understood.  He was craddled, hugged, kissed, sung to, kissed and hugged some more.  He never felt anger, hate, jealousy, greed.  This little baby only knew Love.  As we move through life, we experice these other hurtful emotions, or we are taught them.  What if you are presented with a situation and you replaced anger with love, jealousy with love, or greed with love?  How light and free would you feel?  I will give you my guarantee, that you will feel better.  You'll feel free.  Liam's precious soul is absolutely free and at peace because all he knew was love.

After we spoke and read our passages, we released butterflies.  Everyone had a little envelope with a butterfly in it, and we opened them at the same time.  The butterflies floated to the sky.  Some landed on us and stayed around for a bit.  It was a beautiful release.  It was joyful and colorful.  Now, when I see a magical butterfly float past, I'll say "Hi" to Gram, and I can add Liam to the list of others that I hold in my heart. I see these loved ones in a butterfly, in the sun the shines, or paints the sky as it sets.  My sister calls Liam her Sonshine, and the colors of the sunset are now Liam using finger paints and making our world a little more beautiful.

Time moves things forward and time will help us heal.  It will never fully patch the hole in my sister's heart.  She and her family lost their son and their brother.  Sometimes life is just plain unfair.  I am a very positive person, but even I can say that at times, life just sucks.  But you know what, I've got today.  You've got today.  Count your blessings, cherish them and celebrate them.

Please, friends, recognize that each day is a gift.  Share more love with each other. Forgive.  Let go of grudges.  Hug, kiss and hold close those near and dear to you.

Our littlest Liam, we love you more than you know.  Or maybe you do know.  Keep smiling and shining down on us, little dude.


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