MARCH 7, 2021: “Seventeen Butterflies” …

Every Christmas, my ex and his mom send a fresh wreath with little butterflies on it to our daughter’s grave. It happens every year faithfully since the very first Christmas without her, and their beautiful wreaths are something I always enjoy seeing as “me and mine” make our own treks to dress her spot with a basket befitting an angel.

Their wreaths show up right after Thanksgiving and stay for the entirety of the month, and thereon into January. Gina Marie gets flowers and baskets many times throughout the year, but January 11th was her “one and only day”, as her duties called her elsewhere, and she left just as swiftly as she came, so of course it is never forgotten! After we split for the last time, her dad made his birthday visit apart from mine, and unbeknownst to me, took that year’s wreath home with him. One day when I was picking up Gia, I noticed it in his garage and asked him why it was there. “Umm, I don’t really know. I just took it for some reason. I didn’t want them just throwing it away.” With that, I asked him if I could have it so that I could perhaps use the beautiful red ribbon and the tiny, “feather butterflies” in her upcoming spring basket, which I did, and there began our family tradition of repurposing her Christmas wreath.

But then … THIS year! As par for the course now, after her birthday, her dad brings the old wreaths for me to do my thing. It’s a labor of love that fills my heart with unspeakable joy, because for all she brought to me in a few short hours, taking them apart and piecing them into my own spring baskets just makes me feel so close to her energy. While I was on the phone with her dad this January, this conversation happened …

Hey, guess what I’m doing … I’m taking apart her wreath and getting ready to make the basket.

Oh, good. There’s seventeen, right?

Seventeen? Seventeen WHAT?

Seventeen butterflies. We add one every year, and this year she’d have been seventeen.

My heart hit the floor in the best kind of way. I had no idea that year after year, one by one, as I’d been carefully cutting those delicate butterflies from their wires and setting them on tissue paper until it was time for their final journey, there was yet another hidden picture waiting to be revealed in keeping with the sweet mosaic rhythm of my life.