Lessons from a Butterfly

One week ago today I was doing my pool exercises when I saw something so very extraordinary I took a calculated risk to retrieve my cell phone from the buggy it rests in without disturbing the amazing sight.

butterfly on caterpillar body – gently folding and unfolding wings

as it moved its legs across the still corpse

The carcasses of two recently deceased caterpillars lay next to the steps where I entered the pool every day. I scarcely paid any attention to them when I moved down the steps and into the water. After all, the bodies of caterpillars that were casualties of the chlorine were common and a dime a dozen, weren’t they.

I also paid very little attention to the small dark colored butterfly that flew around me in wide circles for about 15 minutes until it came to rest on one of the caterpillar bodies lying on the cement next to the pool steps.

I was so startled at the sight that I stopped my pacing to watch as the butterfly established a kind of rhythm – opening and closing its wings while it moved its legs back and forth across the dead caterpillar. I felt like I was an intruder in a private ritual of grief reserved for these tiny creatures that made our human tears a poor substitute. And then I began to think the butterfly didn’t fly away from me because it sensed my shared sorrow.

Today, exactly one week later, I was on the last leg of my routine early morning walk around the pool when I saw this remarkable sight.

a beautiful large blue black butterfly landed right in front of me

This gorgeous creature flew next to the pool steps, landed, and began to open and close its wings just as the one had last week. I sat down in my buggy seat to better observe what I believe was…what?…the same butterfly from last week…another butterfly…what does that matter really…

What I learned was a powerful lesson about the importance of all creatures great and small, the individuality of grief, the exquisite beauty in hope embraced by a spirit willing to take flight following great loss.

Stay tuned.



About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Lessons from a Butterfly

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    Aren’t butterflies amazing teachers? They are like ambassadors to the world of bugs. Through them, if we’re open to it, we see an amazing alien world of tiny beings. Your butterflies are beauties.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M.B. Henry says:

    This really resonated with me, as I have always kind of believed that butterflies are little spirit guides. These ones have taught us that grief transcends all barriers! Such a beautiful post Sheila.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was really special, Sheila. They’re very dear to us too, the messengers from the angels. Did you think it had a message for sluggy too…or maybe sluggy had a message too 😉 Loved the way you described the powerful last sentence. Pawkisses for a Happy Week ahead🐾😽💞

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Luanne says:

    Wow, so powerful!!! I hope all is well?

    Liked by 1 person

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