Waiting for the Butterflies: A Very Special Mother’s Day

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” (Anon.)

The above quote is taken from the Mother’s Day card my son gave to me this year. In it he writes, “The quote on this card seems to me the perfect metaphor for the metamorphosis this past year has been for you: A most unwelcome change at a time that should have been a celebratory one. Yet that change evolved, through the dutiful strength and belief you showed in the name of a future you were not certain you would have, into a renewed sense of the preciousness of life and time.”

For those of you who have followed me on SOL, you know that the “unwelcome change at a time that should have been a celebratory one” refers to the fact that I was diagnosed with late-stage cancer within two weeks of my retirement from teaching last June. The diagnosis was a shock and caused me to enter a cocoon stage that allowed me to undergo many biopsies, hospital stays, radiation and chemo treatments that would have been unbearable otherwise. In late January, when I was declared “cancer free” by my radiation doctor, I was still so well shielded by my cocoon that I was unable to experience any sense of joy in spite of the very welcome news. As the weeks passed, I worried that my feelings of happiness would never return. Everyone who learned the good news was very happy for me, while my emotions remained completely flat.

Then, an unexpected turn of events initiated a slow change in my emotions. A friend suggested that I join this blog, Two Writing Teachers, that offered a month-long challenge to teachers to blog every day for the month of March. The theme, a Slice of Life, required only that participants write about something happening in real time every day for the entire month. The other requirement for participation was to respond to at least three other writers’ blogs every day. This was a life changing experience for me for several reasons. It provided me with an instant audience for my thoughts; a community of writers who would respond to my writing every day; and a realization that I am, after all, a person who really enjoys writing. I found myself waking up every day excited about seeing who responded to my blogs and what they had to say. I felt energized to think of a new topic every day which caused me to renew my connection to my daily life in a way I hadn’t been able to since the onset of my illness.

Today, Mother’s Day, I am sitting in my zero-gravity chair in my backyard while my son, daughter and husband putter in the garden. I placed my chair where I could see all the plants in bloom and appreciate the time and effort that I and other family members have put into making this beautiful display happen. I am feeling the lovely warm breeze and the occasional drops from the sprinkler sprayed on me by the wind. I am enjoying the vivacious colors of bright yellow, coral pink, fuchsia, lavender, deep purple and soft pinks spread throughout the garden and watching the bumblebees wander lazily from blossom to blossom. I know the butterflies will be here soon.

Note: I dedicate this blog to my friend, Kathleen Sokolowski, without whose encouragement this blog would not have been written, and especially to my friends who are or have been engaged in their own struggles with cancer. May the butterflies soon visit all of you, too.

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17 thoughts on “Waiting for the Butterflies: A Very Special Mother’s Day”

  1. Yay, you figured out how to add a picture! Sounds like you had a great Mother’s Day. I had a great day with my family too. Here is my email written out so you will need to translate it: leannecarpenteratsbcglobaldotnet

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    1. Yes I finally got brave enough to try it. Glad you had a good Mother’s Day, too. I had wanted to send you the post before SOL Tuesday which is why I asked for your email. I didn’t realize, because I’m such a newbie at this, that if you are “following me,” which I think you are, you would automatically be able to access it once I published it on WordPress. I learn something new every day. In any case, now I know where you live….

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  2. Becoming a free-flying butterfly seems an apt reward for all us hard-working caterpillars. If beautiful, so much the better. Congratulations on getting the picture included!

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  3. Lovely meditation on the gradual renetry into life. I love the metaphor of the protective cocoon becoming restrictive and then the breaking out through writing. So much said in a few words. Thank you….

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  4. Barbara, You should definitely write! You do it so beautifully. I’m so glad you had a great Mother’s Day. Obviously, you so deserve it, and obviously you so appreciate things in a way most of us haven’t yet learned to do. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  5. Here’s what I want to say: Last summer, I went to the beach early in the morning with my mom, Alex, and Megan. The sky was brilliant, the ocean was that calm, deep blue, the air salty and warm, the sun like a hug on our shoulders. Soft sand, coconut smell, smiles and laughter- the whole scene was just peace and joy. Being with my mother and children in such a beautiful place filled me with calm and love so much that I kept a shell so I could connect back to that moment later when I needed that peaceful feeling. This entire post you wrote has that same feeling for me- peace, beauty, joy, love. It is such a hopeful, gorgeous piece of writing and I am beyond touched that you dedicated it to me. What a gift! And what a gift our friendship has been. I’m so glad your Mother’s Day was full of love and beauty. I used the butterfly quote in my class glitter board today. It is one of my new favorites!

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    1. And your description of a day at the beach with your loved ones moved me deeply as well. So glad you have that shell as a reminder. I have several of my own from various excursions. I am happy to be on your glitter board today and that my quote has become a favorite. It’s fun to inspire another teacher, and you certainly have inspired me on many occasions, hence the dedication. Looking forward to many more shared experiences with you!

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  6. Holy Toledo, this post changed me. Thank you for taking the time to share what you really feel. I was reading about honesty last night and thinking how if people aren’t honest, I can tell. I shut down. Your post opened me up wide this morning. I look forward to reading more and am grateful that you are still on this planet with the ability to share who you are.

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    1. Your response is very genuine as well and I really appreciate that. I have lots of posts on my blog since I participated in the daily March SOL challenge. I think you’ll find at least some of them equally honest. Honesty can be a burden, by the way. I’ve had to learn how to channel it. Thanks for your response…it’s very encouraging.

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  7. Your acceptance of this much-unexpected change in your life really comes through this blog post. I honestly can sense that you are at peace with your life, with becoming this butterfly that you are. Much love to you today, and we are so glad you are now a part of this loving community.

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  8. I love being a participant in this writing community; it has truly changed my life since I retired. Thanks for all your encouraging feedback which is so necessary and welcome.

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  9. What a gorgeous garden picture. There is such care and love there. Thank you for opening your heart to us and thank you for reminding me to watch for the butterflies.

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