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Challenge: Life Changes

How A Yellow Butterfly Turned My Grief Into Happiness

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The summer months are difficult for me, they always will be. Each day, the constant reminders of three years ago dance through my head. The beautiful moment of giving birth to my triplets is met with the tragic and painful memory of losing two of my children. As the years go by, life moves forward. I find myself consumed with raising my beautiful miracle child, and most times, the happiness outweighs the sorrow. But this summer was different. My surviving triplet graduated from every therapy, she no longer needed a handful of specialists, and she was about to start preschool. With so many milestones, I was a mess. The watery eyes became a daily occurrence; sweet and happy tears, riddled with heartbreak. But, as the summer slowly comes to an end, a smile spreads across my face as I remember a beautiful sign from above. It’s amazing to think that a single butterfly had the power to ease my grief.

I first saw this butterfly shortly after my daughter turned three. It was the end of June, a month that is always filled with many emotions. It’s tough being a mom to children both here on earth and in heaven. I need to be strong for my survivor and celebrate her special day, yet the pain inside is unbearable, knowing her brother and sister should be joining in on the birthday celebration. I sat outside watching my daughter play on her swing with tears trickling down my face. It was a moment of sadness as I pictured my triplets giggling together, something that will never be possible. Just then, as I looked across the yard at my daughter, a beautiful yellow butterfly fluttered nearby.

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Many people experience a sign from their loved one in heaven and butterflies are often considered to be a symbol from beyond the grave. I’ve experienced that special sign twice thanks to butterflies, so it’s not unusual for me to look at the insect and ask, “Are you Parker or Abby?” As I watched this butterfly, the thought did cross my mind, but it was a fleeting memory as it quickly flew away.

A few weeks later, I was reminiscing over my son’s short life; his wild blonde hair a stark contrast to his gentle personality. As I looked out the kitchen window, a beautiful yellow butterfly flew by. I instantly thought back to that day when I first saw that yellow beauty. As the summer weeks flew by, the yellow butterfly continued to appear. Sometimes I was outside with Peyton and my husband, other times I was walking to the mailbox or driving down the street, but each time that yellow butterfly made its presence known. And every time I saw that bright flutter in the distance, I thought of Abby and Parker, my two children in heaven.

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As September approached, I was faced with a range of emotions. I was so proud of Peyton as she was about to begin preschool. It’s a milestone we were unsure would ever be possible for our 22-weeker, 1-pound child. And while I watched my child overcome so many obstacles, I was also heartbroken, knowing that I should be buying three little backpacks, not just one. On that first day of school, I held it together, a lump in my throat hidden from the world. I walked hand in hand with my daughter to her classroom and gave her a kiss when I left the room. As I walked outside, the lump in my throat multiplied in an instant. My eyes became glassy and I sped up my stride, quickly walking to avoid other parents in the parking lot. Safely in my car, I let out a giant exhale, not realizing I had been holding my breath unconsciously. The tears turned to sobs as the weight of the morning sank in. I took a deep breath and wiped the tears away. As I looked up, there it was right in front of me: that beautiful yellow butterfly fluttered just outside of my car.

The tears once again tumbled down my face, but this time they were full of happiness. As I drove home alone, a sense of peace came over me. It turns out, Abby and Parker were with me throughout the summer, guiding me through the treacherous waters of grief. I arrived home and made a cup of coffee, unsure of what to do with my few hours of freedom. As I sat at our table, I glanced outside at the serene September morning. And just like that, a beautiful yellow butterfly appeared out my window; a special sign from above, letting me know life will be OK.

A version of this originally appeared on the blog, Perfectly Peyton.

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