I am writing for an event hosted by Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart called Perfect Moment Monday. When grief tends to be your constant companion this can be difficult. However, I found it has given me pause to take in more of my life and shake off a bit of the numbness. For this, I am grateful.
My perfect moment almost didn’t happen. You see, what turned into a perfect moment was one I had at first thought of as horribly painful. It involved my Sweet Baby Girl, Madeline, and butterflies.
For a second year in a row we received an invitation for a Butterfly Memorial, hosted by the Pediatric Rehab Hospital, where Madeline had spent a month as an inpatient and several months, several days a week for outpatient therapy.
I have a love/hate relationship with this place. The fact that it is there and the work they do I LOVE, the fact that My Baby Girl had to be there, I hate……………..trumped only by the Raw Pain that we are now on a list to attend a ceremony to honor the life of Madeline and the other Precious Souls who are no longer with us.
We attended last year, as a family, and it was very difficult. I had not darkened the doorstep of this place since Madeline’s last therapy visit the previous year. Walking through those doors a year ago almost brought me to my knees. I sobbed uncontrollably when my senses were overloaded with the smell, sound, faces and numerous memories and emotions that rushed over me of our time there. However, to hear Madeline’s name and be referred to as “Madeline’s Mom was music to my ears.
Fast forward………….We received the invitation again this year. The week leading up to the event was difficult. As it so happens, other committments were keeping the rest of my family from being able to attend. My memories of the previous year started to creep in and fill me with dread. Did I want to experience those emotions again? Did I want to do that ever distinctive drive into D.C. and take that particular trip down memory lane, where the snapshots that fill the road rip open all of the wounds. Renew the questions, why her, God? Why did you need her? If only given the chance God, I would have done this drive forever, just to have that Sweet Baby Girl with us and delight in her grace.
In the end, I knew I must go. The fear of a missed opportunity had a stronger hold on me than fearing more pain and renewed, raw grief. I also knew I would have to go without my family. Our boys’ grief journey has been so very fragile that I could not expect them to go and experience new pain. But I wondered if I could do it alone? My body (and maybe God) were telling me, “NO”, THAT would be too much, in your weakness you must find the strength to reach out.”
So, I did. Sunday morning I contacted my dear friend and asked if she could/would attend this ceremony with me. And she did, along with her 10 year old daughter. Although the drive did put me on edge, I shared a couple of memories of all of my trips to appointments. When we entered the doors, this time, instead of being brought to my knees, I felt warmth and gratitude. Grateful that this place existed and for the care and love they gave Our Madeline. I remembered the laughs, yes, I said laughs, we would have during therapy watching Madelines expressions and her tough and fiesty spirit, always reminding us who was really in control.
It was a beautiful crisp day when we all gathered in the butterfly garden for the memorial. They gave us all the opportunity to share about our babies. This time through a shaky voice, I was able to talk about Our Madeline and how she is loved, adored and missed everyday. I brought her picture which I mandated be admired. Not hard to do. This time the raw pain received a soothing balm when I got to speak her name, share her photo. We each received a butterfly. Madeline’s name was called and the three of us released our Madeline Butterflies to fly free. I was so touched to have these dear friends experience this with me. What a sight to behold. This time as the Butterflies flew, I saw their beauty………….I saw my Madeline. I saw her free from her earthly limitations and with the wings of an Angel.
In one perfect moment, I think I even felt a warm hug …………………..and Butterfly Kisses.