The final days of a butterfly
Butterflies symbolize hope, life, death, and rebirth. They experience remarkable transformation throughout their lives; it's no wonder humans cherish them as messengers or signs from their loved ones.
Our little forest wonderland at home has welcomed thousands of butterflies over the years. In the spring and summer we see them in every direction, fluttering about from here to there on their official butterfly business. There are far too many for me to think of them as special symbols, signs, or messages.
Until now, that is.
Two days ago I headed down the driveway to walk through the neighborhood with my fellas (my son, great Dane, and orange tabby - yes, he walks with us twice daily and is really agitated when we leave him behind). Each of us walked by this exquisite creature, who was resting on one of the rear tires of my vehicle. He didn't move and I feared he might be injured. For the first time I thought I might have a butterfly messenger. His location was one that I couldn't miss. I needed to see him.
We walked and returned to see the butterfly in the same area. He had turned a bit and was facing a different direction.
He was there later that day. As evening fell, he folded his wings. He wasn't going anywhere.
The next day I curiously ventured to the driveway to see him. He was still there. His wings remained folded. When the sun shone over the hill, he opened his wings. I could see the damage to his right wing - the tail on the lower portion was missing. He couldn't fly.
A butterfly who cannot fly is a butterfly who cannot nourish himself. He will slowly starve if he is not first eaten by a predator. This is the way of nature and yet it seems shockingly cruel. Through all of this, the butterfly remains beautiful. Inspiring. Almost otherworldly. I see people fail to nourish themselves over the years; unlike the butterfly, they flail about wildly and search for an external reason for their suffering. There is a lesson here, I think.
When I needed to use my vehicle I gently relocated him from the tire to the ground nearby, taking care not to do additional damage and also to place him in a safe location. I made a place for him on the ground, near ferns I hoped would keep him out of sight from flying predators.
Here I sit, typing out this story on Day 3, as I contemplate this butterfly's visit. He is no longer resting on the ground where I left him. I am afraid he has met his demise. I enjoyed his visit and am thankful for the message. Now I need to figure out what that message is.
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