You See, I Am the Butterfly

Our first four butterflies hatched beautifully within the first few days of having them.

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.

I don’t think I’m a pretty crier either, although I’ve been told I am. I never will be because I can’t breathe when 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.

Then there’s the worst.

The thing is, I had to euthanize a butterfly today, and it takes my breath away in the worst way.

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’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I would have given you every fighting chance.

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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:

Don’t make me say goodbye to summer just yet.

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.

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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.

There is no such thing as immunity. Not if you love, and you love so much.

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I used to get crazy butterflies when nervous as a kid. I can feel short of breath or very nauseous when nervous as an adult.

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.

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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.

Little by little. There’s just too much good in here. It’s almost too much to handle.

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These are my August things. I fear the chill always, but I feel my inner core has warmed to withstand it more.

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.

What can’t you believe this August?

I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet

Do you ever get a sense of motion or motion sickness when you’re not even moving?

I once thought that my long childhood phobias of earthquakes/tornados originated when my father died – for many reasons concerning how it happened (the way the floor shook) to the movies I watched at that time (The Wizard of Oz) – but I have hazy memories from before then. You know when you pick someone up and spin them around and they don’t really like it, but they kind of like it and they shriek/laugh so you don’t stop? I always needed you to stop – or else you’d feel nails down your back. And not the good kind, either. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with motion/moving throughout my entire life.

It’s push/pull, control/lack of control, prison/freedom, pulling in/letting go. Learning to fly, but without wings.

I’ve decided this means you’re really living. Fear of the unknown is ok, because that means you’re even bothering to approach the unknown, and you’re stepping out of your footsteps. It’s ok to grip the handlebars around every new curve and dip. Because what moves me is everything. It’s two ends of a spectrum. I could think it’s anxiety or I could think it’s magic. When I feel so much, it bleeds out in different ways. Maybe I’ll write about it. Maybe it will show up in my photographs.

If there’s an overflow, which there always is, it shows up in my dreams. If there’s an overflow from that, which there always is, it shows up in symptoms. It’s like being high but since I don’t really know what that’s like – save for a nitrous oxide experience during oral surgery (in which I thought I had floated up to the ceiling) – it’s like being high on life. Sometimes you get too high, too fast, and you lose your floating balance. You might get dizzy or hit a wall. The ground swirls beneath you, but hey, at least you tried to fly so high. Maybe next time you’ll be ready. You’ll go back up. And you’ll be so moved.

You’ll never stop moving.

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Want to know what moves me? I thought I’d try a quick “Currently” post, because it’s been awhile. Maybe I can make it quick for real! Maybe my quick answers will reveal all the crazy swirlingness inside. And hey, isn’t that the point?

Currently, I’m…

Reading: Ooh, pick me! My library card has been renewed and my overdue charges are currently under $10. “Currently.” Get it? We’ll see how long that lasts! I’m ignoring my library books in favor of a borrowed copy of A Man Called Ove.

Planning: This should be called “Should be Planning.” Camp schedules, editorial calendars, beach trips, overnights, eight-year-old birthday parties, and for myself to have some much needed R&R on a beach island. All alone. Or with one other.

Stressing: About stress symptoms. Funny, no? I woke up with some, although still had a delicious day mostly without them.

Wishing: For all of Scarlet’s birthday wishes to come true. And while we’re at it, mine too!! (July 25th birthday)

Feeling: A little alarmingly indifferent to everything, while writing about how I’m moved by everything. Don’t let the indifference fool you, though. I tend to get scattered and numbed down when I’m coping with too many feels at once.

Listening: To MSNBC in the background and the extended 6-7 minute live “Old Love” by Clapton in the foreground.

Thinking: That I’m always thinking and I want to shut it off by command, and probably there’s a way, but if I did that – I wouldn’t be me. So all of this comes with a reason and a price. And now I’m thinking that I’m rambling. Hi!

Wearing: Obviously a sundress. Let me dig around for a photo of the exact make and model..That’ll do, pig.

Loving: Steely Dan, short skirts, and getting an ice cream sundae to go from Village Green Ice Cream and then eating it out of the quart carton for days on end. Sunshine, dumplings, and how much Scarlet looks like Hermione. You see it, right?

Hoping: That I finally find a better work/life/sanity balance, but I also hope work keeps getting crazier. Maybe I hope my sanity/balance increases as fast as the work does, because baby hold on to me – whatever will be, will be.

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 “What moves me…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What moves YOU?