Real or make-believe? I actually used to think purple butterflies were make-believe. Something creative and lovely but not real in nature. Funny thing, I learned I was wrong. How you might ask? Through the process of saying goodbye to my mom as she passed from this physical life. And now as I look back, I see the similarities in a purple butterfly and what this blog premise is about. If you have never ventured to push your edges or beliefs, you miss out on things and experiences that are real and lasting. A connection of the heart is one of those things. We don’t really have to say goodbye to our loved ones as they pass. They just take on the form of angels, watching over us and cheering us on through our joys and tribulations.
Why start now? I actually started a few years ago, capturing some of my experience and using entries from my journals and my mom’s writings. I recently saw the movie Brave with my children and Princess Merida spoke to me. I was taken back to the stubborn young girl I was, determined to make my own path in life. At church this morning, our pastor talked about ‘God loves us, now what’. ‘Go out and do something’ was the message he left with us. And here I am, venturing into the unknown to share my story of how a heart can expand beyond any boundaries a mind can imagine.
It was late summer of 2003 in Boulder, Colorado and I was struggling through one of those tough life transitions, a divorce with a four year old son and two year old daughter. Changing almost everything I knew, even the type of job I held. Good news is I had some constants in my life that pulled me through. My mom and dad were some of my strongest supporters. One day, my dad asked what I needed. He was thinking I would say money. What I needed most was for my mom and dad to come help me through, be by my side, wrap my babies in their love and help us all survive the worst. Or what I thought was the worst at the time. My dear friend Lyn says God only gives us what we can handle. A divorce with small children was more than I thought I could handle, but figured I would take each day as it came, face the fear and uncertainty and carry on. Each day felt like a wall of grief. Some moments like quick sand, others like water. How soon I would learn otherwise- that my heart would grow to handle more.
My mom and dad came to live with us and help – a trip that had no defined end until I felt stable. As my mom was picking up toys around the house one day, I saw her taking small breaths, kind of like the breathing taught in birthing classes to prepare for having a baby. She tried to keep it to herself and kept a smile on her face. I started to notice her do this more and more often. My mother represented the rock of Gibraltar for me. Stronger than anyone I had ever met. Quick to offer help and always loving each of us with her heart wide open. When I asked if anything was wrong, she said she was having a little pain but nothing to worry about. I was quite distracted with my own pain and dismissed it as nothing. One day we were hiking in the open space and she opened up a little more about the quick little breaths.Mom never complained once a day in her life. What she shared told me this was a whole lot more than nothing- mom was experiencing some bleeding and having lower hip pain, a pressure-like feeling near her tail bone. As we talked more, I learned that a year and a half before, her colonoscopy revealed a small benign polyp that was removed. Her doctor recommended another test in 3 years. Nothing to worry about, he said.
My heart grew heavy each day knowing that mom was helping me while she suffered inside. That was my mother, always giving to others, very selflessly. The wall of my own grief as I transitioned out of a marriage distracted me more. One day as I packed and prepared to move to a new house, my eyes welled up with tears. I was frozen in my tracks as my reality started to settle in. Could it be another life transition starting to take shape? One more life-altering than a divorce? Oh no, God, I am not ready. I am not strong enough. I grew up as a daddy’s girl and had only opened my heart enough to feel my mother’s love just seven years earlier. A deep and growing relationship was in the nascent stages of forming. I was starting to feel whole.