I believe in ghosts. Well, I’m not even sure if you can call it ghosts in which I believe. The way I look at it is that no one knows for sure what happens after we die. Catholics believe there is a time of atonement following death which is called Purgatory. I don’t know if there is a Purgatory, but I like to believe that there is, because if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I know I still have a lot of atoning to do.
A few months after my mother died, my dad, my sister Jen and her family, and my nephew Erik traveled to Arizona to visit my brother Dave. No question that the trip was at least in part to get my dad, who was grieving enormously, out of the house and distracted.
One night they were all sitting outside of my brother’s house, when a little bird flew into the patio and landed on my dad’s gin and tonic. According to the story that all present SWEAR is true, the bird took a sip of my dad’s drink. It then flew onto the shoulder of my then-sister-in-law Brenda, who walked into the house to cook dinner with the bird sitting there the entire time. There’s more to the story, but everyone that was privy to this bird visit is completely convinced that the bird was my mother and her purpose was to let everyone know that she was fine, and would always be with all of us. So, though I wasn’t there, I, too, am convinced my mother came back to earth for a short time as a tiny cactus wren.
I am telling you about my mother’s post-death visit so that you won’t think I’m entirely coo-coo when I tell you this story.
Yesterday morning, I woke up as usual before Bill. I came out to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. I immediately noticed something unusual sitting between the coffee pot and the toaster…..
Please ignore the fingerprints on my toaster and pay attention instead to the monarch butterfly. I stared at the beautiful thing for an inordinately long time, trying like hell to figure out how a butterfly got into our house.
Now I began to wonder if it was dead or alive. I took a nearby napkin and gave it a gentle poke. It did not move. Did that mean it was dead?
The only answer I could come up with was that it was someone I loved coming back to earth to tell me they were doing swell in the afterlife. Yes, folks, I went right there without hesitation. My mother was out of the question because she had already declared herself to be a bird. Several relatives have passed away in the past few years, but none that I was close enough to to warrant a Purgatory visit. I was just beginning to convince myself that it had to be my friend Megan who passed away almost two years ago from pancreatic cancer. She had never come calling before, though I always thought she would come for an ethereal visit. I wouldn’t have expected a butterfly, but who am I do question God’s plan?
About then, Bill came out into the kitchen. I explained my situation. He, too, couldn’t fathom why there was a butterfly in our house. He, however, had the good sense to look closer. He, in fact, turned the butterfly over.
Hand to God, these were his exact words: “I’ve never looked at the underside of a butterfly, but I don’t think there is paper and glue on a butterfly’s underbelly.”
Ok, I was willing to accept that this wasn’t an ethereal visit from Megan. But why was there a realistic-looking fake butterfly in my kitchen? I had never seen it before, and there are only two of us in the house. I gave up a Purgatorial visit and decided we had a ghost. So I sent a photo, and my thoughts, to my sister Jen.
A bit later I got a FaceTime call from her, and she was laughing so hard she could hardly talk. Between snorts, she explained to me that if I go into the kitchen by the toaster and look up, I will see a vase on the cupboard which holds a few dried flowers, and A COUPLE OF ARTIFICIAL BUTTERFLIES. She had gotten a beautiful plant as a gift, and had put the dried flowers in a vase up above. I looked up, and the flowers were there, but only one butterfly was present because the other one was sitting upside down on my kitchen counter.
There’s no moral to this story. But aren’t butterflies beautiful?