Friday, November 22, 2013

Bubbles and Butterflies

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”

“Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

 - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

It has been over two years since my mom’s death, and I’ve been missing her more than usual lately. Maybe it was my grandson, Austin’s, first birthday at the end of August triggering these feelings of unresolved issues, and surely it is just part of the grieving process. Whatever the reason, I am learning to allow myself the time to absorb my feelings and work through them, which led me to my mom’s grave to sit and meditate recently. My Mom loved butterflies. We released butterflies at her memorial service, there is a butterfly carved into her grave marker and my sister and brother-in-law hung a butterfly chime on a tree branch above her grave. As I was leaving her gravesite a light breeze struck it, sending me on my way with a sweet tinkling sound.

Austin has been my mindfulness teacher lately. I have been rediscovering the world through his eyes. Every acorn fascinates him; we followed a single worm crawling across our porch, down the stairs and into the yard one morning; he delights in the sound of the leaves crunching under our feet when we “march” home from the park; and folks, if you have never gotten on your back to look up at the sky and autumn leaves, may I encourage you to do so! However the biggest lesson he taught me this summer was how to blow bubbles the “right” way.

Austin loves bubbles! I started blowing bubbles for him in the early springtime. We would sit outside and I would blow as many bubbles as I could, because we all know that more is better, (right?) until I stopped and observed him. He was not interested in the amount of bubbles; the flight of each bubble captivated him. So I slowed down.  I would blow one wand-worth and then we would watch each bubble do its thing until the last one popped, and then the whole process would start all over again, one…bubble…at…a…time.

It was towards the end of summer, during one of our bubble blowing sessions that I noticed the yellow butterfly. Austin noticed it, too, because when the last bubble popped, we were no longer interested in bubbles we were now watching the butterfly. This went on for the next couple of weeks, the yellow butterfly getting closer to us each week. On the fourth week, a blue butterfly visited us and sat on the porch railing, so close I could have reached out and touched it. Both Austin and I instinctively knew that stillness was the name of the game now as we watched the butterfly sitting there with its delicate wings gently fluttering, looking at us, too. It was in that moment that I felt a strong connection to my mom, and then it hit me; the butterflies were a sign, a poignant reminder that even though we are apart, my mom is always with me; she will always be my mom, a bond that cannot be broken. 

The butterfly sat on the railing for a few minutes, and then just like the bubbles, she glided away out of sight, continuing on her way. But I have the faith to know that her journey did not end on the porch railing, that she would move onward even though I could no longer see her; just like my mom. Less is more sometimes.
It took a bottle of bubbles and my grandson to help teach me that, and two beautiful butterflies to remind me of the metamorphosis we all go through. Our life journey from infant to adult is full of transformations, and maybe our journey never really dies, it simply changes into a new existence.