My mother thinks I am losing my mind.
My youngest daughter thinks I am giving off certain pheromones.
My friends are chuckling under their breath.
You see, I talk to butterflies.
It wasn’t something I planned to do. It just happened.
Last year, I was invited to participate in a butterfly release event to raise money for Peace Arch Hospital.
A simple enough request, I am thinking. Of course I shall say “yes,” as it will raise my CARP/Zoomer profile in the community.
I remember it was a beautiful, sunny day, and I mingled with many people I knew.
We all clutched little, white boxes that held a single butterfly inside. When we were given the cue, we carefully opened the box to let the little beauty be released in the name of a loved one remembered or to simply make a wish.
Suddenly, there was this burst of colour as the Monarchs escaped their tiny prisons and soared skyward towards their freedom.
All of the butterflies took part in this flight… all of them except mine.
My little winged insect remained perched precariously on the box, unwilling to take flight.
I coaxed it, cajoled it and urged it to set itself free, to spread its wings and surge forth into oblivion.
But it didn’t budge. I managed to convince it to leave its cardboard domicile and perch on my finger. But it still wouldn’t fly away.
The woman beside me suggested it was the spirit of a loved one who wanted to communicate with me.
Taken aback, I thought of my father who died in the Peace Arch Hospital well over 30 years ago. Looking directly at my newfound friend, I asked, “Would you like to come home with me?”
No response, so I took that as a “yes.”
I put my new BFF on the passenger seat of my Honda. “It’s a sensible, efficient car,” I explained. “Great mileage. I plan to keep it for a while longer.”
Having exhausted my one-sided conversation, we drove along in silence until we reached my house.
I opened the front door and carried my companion across the threshold.
“This is my new home. I live here alone and I am doing just fine. Please have a look around.”
I placed him on the mantelpiece and opened the back door.
“Stay as long as you like!”
Two hours later, I looked and he was gone.
Left without a word. I hope he got what he came for and that he is happy knowing I am OK.
Fast forward to one year later.
Once again, I am invited to a butterfly release for the same benefactor. Same scenario. Different outcome.
My butterfly wouldn’t leave. In fact, he flew directly into my open purse on the ground.
I gingerly removed him, being careful not to touch his wings, and again he headed back into my purse.
“You again! Nice to see you, but your friends are waiting for you. Fly away my little beauty!”
Unswayed, he remained by my side.
“I know letting go is hard,” I whispered gently, “but it is necessary in order to move on.”
Not even a slight flicker of his wings.
“As you can see, I am doing just fine… there is no need to worry about me. You can let go, Daddy!”
He hesitated, then flew away high over the rooftop.
“See you next year.”
April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.