The Butterfly

I’ve hesitated to write this post because I recognize it makes no sense whatsoever.  It completely goes against what I truly believe.  It is a flight of fancy.  Yet it persists, like other irrational thoughts as I continue to grieve.

A black and rust butterfly appeared to me twice. And though I feel foolish expressing it, I admit that at the time I wanted to believed it was a tiny piece of Atlas’s soul greeting me. Making contact. Reassuring me.  I don’t truly believe it, but for brief seconds I let the lie seep in.  And like parched earth soaks in the rain with a desperation, I let myself take foolish false comfort.

The first time was the spring after Atlas died.  One quiet morning as I was walking Halley along the power line it came fluttering up to us.  I recall no other sign of life – bugs, butterflies, or birds.  It followed us closely for some distance.  Its black wings had rust spots the same color as the ones above Atlas’s eyes.  I don’t recall seeing that type of butterfly before.  I went on the internet later that day to see what type it could be, but could not find the exact species.

The second time was more than six months later, after I moved.  It had just snowed, but was warming up.  Still, a few patches of snow stayed on the ground.  Halley and I were walking, and there it was…fluttering up to us again.  It didn’t stay near long, but I couldn’t believe that here was that exact same type of butterfly – so late in the fall, despite the cold.

For the most part I’ve tried to stare this reality  of Atlas’s death squarely in its face, but at times I just want to believe the lie. It’s so hard to accept that such a beautiful soul can just cease to exist.  And as much as I don’t want to, I do still believe that is what truly happens.

This is a poem I wrote years ago when I was left at the altar, that I think expresses the same sentiment of sometimes not wanting to accept a harsh reality of losing a love:

Honesty is my jailer

That I could lull him to sleep,

for just a moment;

One long enough…

To sneak into your arms.

To steal soft comfort and sweet desire.

But he never sleeps

Nor turns his gaze,

From my actions to thoughts

He knows them all.

He sours the dream-draft each and every night

Then makes me drink to my health.


It is so hard without you, Atlas.





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