Monday, December 11, 2017

Voices of Experience: A Butterfly

Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.  ~ Eskimo Proverb

Anne Bardsley believes in angels. She is the author of Angel Bumps, Hello From Heaven, a collection of tender stories from those who've received signs from their departed loved ones, reassuring them that they are still near in spirit. In this excerpt, Anne describes the signs she's received from her own mom that inspired her to gather similar stories from others, all demonstrating her firm belief that while people die, love is eternal.

A week after my mom passed, I was driving to work in tears. The reality of her death sank in that morning. I felt like an orphan. All of the tears that I’d held inside to be strong at the funeral, let loose. I just needed to know she was in Heaven and at peace, without pain. I asked her for a sign to assure me. I felt a hand rest ever so lightly on my right cheek, and I smiled and said: “What the heck was that, Mom?”
Then I wondered if it had really happened. I asked out loud, “Mom, can you send me a real sign so I know for sure?” As I turned the corner, my car was instantly engulfed in little white butterflies. It was a butterfly blizzard! I cried, and I laughed. I could almost hear her giggling and saying, “Anne, did you get that sign? Was that one real enough for you?” I imagined her smiling.

Ever since that day, when I miss of my mom, a little white butterfly appears. At my gift store, it became a tradition that if anyone spotted a white butterfly in the rose bushes out front, they would run in and tell me, “Anne, your mom’s out front again!” I loved that sisterhood, and the total belief in her sign.

My mom’s sign as a little white butterfly isn’t surprising. She wasn’t a flashy woman; she wouldn’t need to be a fancy, multi-colored monarch. She wouldn’t want big, ostentatious wings. Small, classic, delicate wings were just her style. She lived her life with simple pleasures, and now she continues to bless my life in the same fashion.

* * * * *

When my son finished high school, I was distraught that my mom couldn’t be with us to attend the graduation ceremony. It was the first big family celebration since she passed. I sat down in the rocking chair on my front porch, in tears. She should have been here with us, having tea on the porch with me.

Just then a little white butterfly landed in my hanging purple and white petunia basket. It bounced to the next one and finally, onto my chair. I sniffled and said: “Hi, Mom. I’m really missing you today.” A calm presence filled me.

When it was time to go, my family walked to the car, and the white butterfly came along, dancing around each one of us. My daughters said in unison, “Nan’s here!” And she was there, circling the car. She flitted in front of the windshield to be sure we all noticed her.

My husband asked, “Did you really think she’d miss her grandson’s graduation?”

Of course, I didn’t.

* * * * *

She continued her visits. At the rehearsal for my son’s garden wedding, my husband and I sat in the front row. Times like that always made me miss both of my parents. I was taking a sentimental journey in my mind when a small white butterfly arrived. She danced between the future bride and groom as they practiced their vows. She lingered, watching from a branch. I like to think she was sprinkling them with blessings for their life together.

She would never miss her grandson’s wedding.

* * * * *

My daughters and I have many conversations about how we all wished she could have met my grandchildren. She would have waltzed each one around the kitchen and sang Eidelwess to them as infants. I often imagine my mom laughing with my grandkids. I really wish they had known her.

When my grandson was two and a half, I got a call from my daughter in Colorado. “Nan’s here today,” she blurted out. “I can’t believe it! She’s been in Heaven for over fifteen years!”

“Arlo has been chasing a little white butterfly for the past half hour. She zips up in the little tree and he waits for her to pop out. She flits by him, circling his head, and he tries to catch her in his grips. He runs after her and she flies out from behind a bush. He’s laughing so hard, his cheeks are rosy.” I could hear him in the background squealing with delight.

She asked him to come over to sit on the steps with her to catch his breath. I overheard the conversation.

“Are you having fun with that butterfly?” she asked.

“I really am,” he replied huffing and puffing. “She’s super fast.”

“Can you say Butterfly?” she asked.

She told me he looked at her quizzically and stated matter of factly,

“That’s not a butterfly! That’s Nan!”

My daughter asked, “Did you hear that mom? How would he know that?”

I’ve had so many conversations with my mom about the grandkids antics. She would have loved spending time with them. I’ve been feeling very sentimental about it for so many years. It seems she’s known them all along.

These small visits from my mom remind me that I am never alone. She is still very near. Just because I can’t hug her, it doesn’t mean she isn’t close. I still talk to her everyday and my grandkids are still chasing little white butterflies.

As I wrote this, a little white butterfly was perched on my windowsill.

About the Author: Anne Bardsley is a wife, mom and grandmother who lives with her husband Scott in St. Petersburg, FL. Her first book, How I Earned My Wrinkles, Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause, was written after her kids were grown and she had time to breathe. Her work has been featured on Erma Bombeck, Betterafter50, Purple Clover, Paradise News, The Island Reporter and many others. Upon its release last summer, Angel Bumps, Hello From Heaven was listed as the #1 Hot New Release on Amazon. For a signed copy or to share a comment, contact Anne via email at or visit her website, Anne Bardsley: Perfectly Imperfect. 

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