I waited until Scarlet came home from camp and invited her best friend/best friend’s mom to join us. We had been waiting for a sunny, warm day. I hadn’t expected the rush I got watching that first one take off from Ella’s (Scarlet’s best friend) outstretched hand, and then swirl into a gold and black vision against the trees. The other three followed suit – and one from my own hand. I sort of wanted to cry, but I didn’t. It’s amazing how often that happens. And when I cry, I CRY.
And that’s the reason I’m afraid of most things. What if I can’t breathe if it happens? What if I can’t breathe at the dentist? Or on a roller coaster? With a stomach virus? During a speech? In a deep kiss? Actually, that’s the best kind of not-breathing.
The fifth butterfly hatched, probably around the fifth day. It was the smallest chrysalis, but probably the prettiest. Scarlet was here when it started, and she hadn’t seen the other four hatch in her own butterfly garden. This butterfly struggled. I helped, as gently as I could, by pulling off pieces of chrysalis that seemed to be suffocating the butterfly and keeping it down. I was trying hard not to touch her and I think I succeeded, but her “birth” (rebirth?) seemed to take forever. She was born late in the day – and didn’t get the luxury of drying her wings against the sun. When we woke up today, I thought she was dead. Then she moved and tried to open her wings. They’re withered and small, but they’re wings. They’re her wings.
I wanted to see what she could do. I read up about what to do, and everyone had the same wisdom – don’t let her suffer for hours or days. Put her to “sleep” in a low temp, and she’ll pass away gently in her sleep. Gentle wings, gentle soul.
I didn’t expect to have my breath taken away by the first butterflies in flight, and I didn’t expect to have it sucked back in the worst way with this last, weaker butterfly. Kristi from “Finish the Sentence Friday” is asking us to talk about the August things right now. The topic this week is “It’s August, and I can’t believe..” and here’s a post I wrote four years ago:
A year ago this week, I had a crippling nightmare. I dreamed it was December. Christmas time. It was dark at 4:45 pm and I had the trace of a winter sniffle – Desmond’s cheeks were red and raw. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like a school bus was on my chest. And in typical dream form, a school bus was actually on my chest! Don’t you love dreams?
And then I woke up, and I looked out the window and it was August. And you know what I’m talking about – August has a particular look, a particular sound, a particular smell and a particular feel. There’s probably even a taste in there somewhere. I was afraid of the cold and darkness. I thought they would go through my skin to my heart. I thought winter would make me cold and dark. It’s not what happened. It’s been a wonderful year. In many ways. These kids. These friends.
For the most part, I truly believe my default setting is of joy. That doesn’t mean the chill doesn’t get in and stay anywhere from two minutes to two years. I started writing this last week when I had a dark few days. And now that I’m continuing these August thoughts, I don’t feel the darkness as much, if at all. This year was filled with just as much, if not more, of the pitfalls of living and loving – sickness, financial trouble, deaths, frustrations, excruciatingly low self-esteem.
I shudder to think that the stress reactions could get worse and worse, but I do believe we can fight it by adding more items to our toolbelts. I do believe I can get stronger and more able to effectively manage the hard times. I do believe that just as the depths of sadness can exist, so can the heights of ecstasy. There is always a lower, sure. And there is always a higher.
Last week when the fall air came in at night and people went back-to-school crazy, I felt it – that hint of doubt in my strength. The fear of December, which by the way, I do always enjoy while it’s happening in all of its festive frenzy. I think I just started mourning the loss of summer before it really ended. I feel steady ground more often these days – and that’s no metaphor. I mean my anxiety used to make me feel a little off-balance. I feel sturdier right now. I feel full right now. I feel in motion. I feel connected. Just a step backwards and I fear the worst. I fear I’ll lose it all. I fear I’ll disappear again.
This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “It’s August, and I can’t believe.” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.