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?

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer at http://tamaracamera.com/, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at http://tamaracamerablog.com and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com, as well as Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead/QA Reader with Sway, and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.

Comments

You See, I Am the Butterfly — 25 Comments

  1. What can I say but yes I get all these emotions and than some during the month of August as I am truly not ready for summer to come to and end and for all that is to come next. There is still some time left though and yet I feel like I am hanging on the ledge of a cliff so to speak. That is just August though in a nutshell I suppose.

  2. What a full post. I can feel the highs and the lows, especially as you tell the story of the butterflies. Aren’t they gorgeous? We’ve had a few monarchs this summer and I’ve tried to get pictures of them but they flit away. Anxiety is a fickle thing, I too am in a good spot, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. This taints all of the good, it’s like there’s a darkness in the shadows. I’m trying to fill my life and home with so many things that make me smile that there aren’t any dark corners for the shadows to hide. Most days this works, I hate the vibration under my skin when I feel the shadows looming. So I’ve been making conscious choices to find more happy things. If I string enough happy together I’m hoping that the dark can’t find a foothold.

    I’m hoping that time slows down a bit here soon, it’s moving so quickly! Enjoy the rest of your August!

  3. August definitely has that feeling… that “waiting for the end to come” feeling. The butterfly story was very sad. Nature can be so harsh πŸ™ I wish we had another month before September for sure.

  4. Poor butterfly…we watched a salmon die in Alaska as it was struggling upstream. I know it’s the circle of life, but it’s so hard to watch. August is like that for me – happy to celebrate both kids’ birthdays, sad that each one takes us closer to the end of childhood, and our family of four together under one roof.

  5. I am a very ugly crier so I try not to cry, but sometimes I just can’t fight the tears. Wow I wish I could see a butterfly hatch, nature is so beautiful and majestic. I can’t believe it’s already August 11th.

  6. I know this makes me a bad blog-reader, but I’m currently stuck on that first pic Scarlet. I scrolled down to leave this comment but I gotta scroll back up again to get re-stuck. #adorable

  7. Beautiful and my pregnant self cried for that butterfly !!! This year, your December will be even more magical as you welcome your new niece, your own DNA, into this and your world xo

  8. The weak butterfly!!! So sad!! I never thought of that happening before. Joy is my default too, and I’m so thankful. Sour is the default of some folks…and…ughhh…We need to love them anyway, but it’s harder.

  9. That butterfly is so beautiful! At the same time it is so sad about the weak one. I remember always hearing about the runts in puppy litters and this is so similar. Such a touching photo of Scarlet with the tear – so beautifully captured!

  10. I’m sorry about the tiny butterfly! What a wonderful thing to do though and I so feel you about August. The letting go, the uncertainty. I think we’ll be fine though. Because of the love. So much.

  11. I feel like a bus is sitting on my chest when I start to cry and I so hate the feeling because I can’t speak. That stuff about the butterflies…circle of life I suppose. I haven’t had much experience with the delicate creatures since we did a unit about them in the first grade. That part about the weak one made me sad. I can only imagine how it was for you in that moment.

    I was one of those excited when the fall air arrived last week. I wrote about it in my own FTSF post this time. I prefer autumn. Changes, perhaps, but mine aren’t the same as yours or anyone else’s. That’s life too.

    This is a very real post you have here. Well done.

  12. I bet you could write an entire post on that precious weak and failing butterfly… This is my challenge for you! πŸ˜‰

    Beautiful and intimate words, as always my gorgeous friend.

    And PS: OMG that DREAM. Or rather NIGHTMARE.

    My inner world often matches yours… This resonates so deeply with me.

    August- especially THIS August is overwhelmingly emotional. Transitions to Middle School for my baby, High School for my baby and cliff diving into 50 for me… August ALWAYS stirs me, for so many reasons. This just takes my breath away and sometimes sucks it in too.

  13. This was one post that I had to stop and come back to. Just hearing of your butterfly almost brought me to tears. Every year we do a butterfly garden for Madison, and we’ve been doing it for the past 4 years. This year 1 of her butterfly didn’t make it either. It was so sad. Life is fleeting but as long as we have someone there to love us, we’ll be ok. I’m happy that you were there.

  14. Yes the smell of back to school is in the air and the summer is leaving is so quickly! I can’t believe i’m traveling so much this month. This is the most traveled year of my life, and I kinda like it!

  15. I love seeing all our butterflies! I also love this from Richard Bach, “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly!”

  16. Your writing is so amazing and it always seems to take my breath away. I think, in some ways, we are all the butterfly.

    There are a lot of things that I can’t believe this August. It has already been a month full of tough questions and hard answers.

  17. August tends to do this to me, too, Tamara. Your writing is just superb here. Really. Though I’m so sorry about that butterfly. I know I would have been very sad, too, but thank goodness, you were there to make his (her?) passing into the next level a bit more peaceful. And then there’s the beauty of the release of the others! How beautiful that must have been to watch them spread their wings and take their first flight πŸ™‚

    XOXO

  18. Your butterfly story gave me chills and made me happy and sad. So, so beautiful. Butterflies are special to me – they are my “sign” from the universe. I can’t believe it’s August and Thomas goes back to school in a week. Back in May summer seemed to stretch out forever…sigh.

  19. The butterfly story struck me as I really love them. I’m fascinated with every butterfly. But I know you did your best. I wish you a lovely August (and it’s already mid-month as I type this). But still. πŸ™‚

  20. By the time we get that fall air here, it’s November and December really really is upon us. By August I’m weary of summer the way you are in April after winter. As for butterflies, as beautiful as you wrote about them, caterpillars take my breath away and not in a good way. I wonder if global warming has anything to do with our lack of caterpillars and butterflies compared to 30 years ago. I rarely see either. It’s really rare, so the fear has gotten worse since I’ve had to face it less if that makes any sense.

    Side question: Do you remember what was happening with Scarlet in the first picture? It looks like something broke her heart. Perfect opening for this post.

  21. Ergh, back to school. This summer broke my heart and starting back to school has been rough. I think we are in a bit if a butterfly stage right now as things are crazy, I wonder what we each will become?

  22. How sad the 5th butterfly didn’t make it.
    I just can’t believe that we are halfway through August and fall is right around the corner. But I’m ready for fall and the cooler temps.

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