Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Butterfly Garden

Last weekend our family went to visit Reiman Gardens. The reason for the trip was, they were hosting a temporary dinosaur display, and our two little boys couldn’t survive without seeing the velociraptors, giant T-Rex skull, and other prehistoric creatures that could be discovered throughout the 14 acres of beautiful varieties of plants. Our family of four, along with my husband’s sister, parents, and grandma, all drove over and toured the grounds. The gardens were beautiful, and of course the dinosaurs were as exciting as we expected, as well as the pond full of tadpoles, but the highlight was definitely the 2,500 square foot butterfly garden.

Jayden was asleep when we arrived at the gardens, so Mark decided to carry him until he woke up on his own. This wasn’t until we were already inside the butterfly garden. He awoke to see hundreds of butterflies of all varieties fluttering about him, as if in a dream. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the reality, and then a huge smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up in amazement. Could this be real? Needless to say he was delighted to have awoken in this brand new world of color and magnificence. Soon he wanted to get down, and began to explore, running from one place to the next, admiring the beauty.

Caedmon was also delighted by the butterflies. He exclaimed over each variety, and paused quietly, holding perfectly still to peer closely at the detail. He loved being inside the garden, but I think his highlight was the butterfly emergence cases. There were three cases with cocoons and chrysalis' in various stages hanging from the top. Some were completely closed, in others the butterfly was just beginning to break out. Some butterflies had just emerged and were hanging waiting for their wings to dry out. A few were ready to fly, anticipating their release into the garden. He watched it with great interest both when we arrived, and before we left. When it was time to go home, it was so hard to tear him away to get in the car. He was convinced one particular butterfly he had been watching would fully emerge if he stood there long enough. It probably would have if they had let us stay past closing time.

There was something that caught my eye. One chrysalis had detached, and lay on the floor of the case, and not far from it was a butterfly, lying motionless, with wings still folded over itself. My sister-in-law, a “bug expert” as Caedmon calls her, explained that without being able to hang long enough, the butterfly’s wings weren’t able to fill with blood and expand as is necessary for flight. Because of a natural accident, her life was cut short before it had even begun. I began to think of our Eliana, so safe and happy in the cocoon of my womb, developing so perfectly waiting for the day when she would emerge into the light of this world, and fly into my arms. Suddenly one day, like a chrysalis falling, her blood and nutrient supply was cut off by two loops and a knot, and her life was cut short. Before she could even spread her wings, or take a breath. Before she could look into her daddy’s eyes, or hear her brothers laughing. Before she could ever feel her skin next to mine and hear me say “I love you.” Looking at that poor fallen butterfly was enough to make you weep.

Even as I thought of her, and pictured her this way, another picture came back to me. It was Jayden; opening his eyes to a new world, then flitting from one butterfly to the next, laughing, playing, reaching out to touch. That is the tiniest glimpse of what it must have been like for our daughter, to awaken for the first time to heaven in all its splendor. That is the type of butterfly she is, not one who has been cut off, whose wings have never spread. She is the butterfly I saw when I first entered the garden. The vibrant green and black one whose wings were almost constantly in motion. That was the one who soared the highest, as far as she could fly, and fluttered about exploring and enjoying everything in her environment. She is my baby who learned how to fly, and she never stopped soaring until she met Jesus. Now she is flying freely with wings outstretched in a limitless garden full of flowers we can only attempt to imagine, and drinking the sweetest nectar.

After Eliana died we read a book to Caedmon about heaven. It said “imagine the most beautiful thing you have ever seen,” and he said “a monarch butterfly.” Last fall he brought home a caterpillar in a jar from his grandma’s house, and we got to watch it make a chrysalis, and eventually emerge as a monarch butterfly. When it was time to let it go, he was so happy that it didn’t fly off right away. It actually landed on him and lingered with him for a while, riding in and out of the house, sitting on his shoulder, his head, his shoe. When it finally flew away he came back in the house crying, but knowing it was necessary to let it go, and happy for the moments they had shared. So true of our baby butterfly, we had her long enough to fall in love with her, and even though we cry, we wouldn’t change a thing.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a beautiful day! We went to a butterfly exhibit at the San Diego Wild Animal Park right after we lost Ella. It was so neat. A butterfly landed on my belly.

    Your boys are adorable. It's so weird because this is the second time, I've "met" someone this week with a child named Caedmon. I know that is a unique name.