I loved this article and wanted to share it with you. It's from Grief Digest Magazine. Enjoy!
Trilogy of Hope
8 JUNE 2011
By Sheila Swedlow
The belief that things come in multiples of three appears to be true. How often have we encountered three births or three weddings or three deaths within a not-too-distant time frame? Three such extraordinary similarities have come to me at a time in my life when I deeply needed affirmation and comfort. Through the rippling effect of these experiences, I have been awakened to miraculous and inspiring possibilities!
Life became meaningless and empty when my daughter, Bari, died. Struggling to keep myself together, I navigated blindly into my new world of grief—a place I did not want to be! During that time of despair, I explored and pursued the unknown, where I learned the magical mysticism that an evolution of caterpillar and butterfly can interconnect the oneness of life. A difficult and foreign concept for the human mind to comprehend is that God can send signs and messages in such different forms, at such different times and in such different ways. The chronicled trilogy of my encounters has led me to wonder and hope and to enter a world of new meanings. Can anyone question that which has no answer?
The first of these occurrences began on Mother’s Day, 2009, only one month after Bari passed away on April 6—the exact day I became half the person I now am—the day a crater crashed through my heart, crushing my chest, leaving me without air or purpose and without meaning to life. In an unwelcome way, Mother’s Day had presented itself, rekindling my torturous wound. It smothered my soul and re-cemented my overwhelming grief.
My grandson, Benjamin, had stayed with me that “first” Mother’s Day, and he was a witness to the beautiful, inspiring message that neither of us will ever forget. As I opened the sliding-glass door in my kitchen, I was dumbstruck, motionless, wide-eyed, open-jawed. Pausing as closely as arm’s length for almost a full minute, was a beautiful, brightly colored Monarch butterfly, flapping its wings as if waving hello, and saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.”
Benjamin and I remained immobile and transfixed. Prior to this event, no butterfly had ever appeared (or was ever seen by us again) that entire year. It happened only on this one, special Mother’s Day. An inexplicable and powerful experience had occurred, and words can never adequately describe the power of that moment. Yet, the depth of that sensation was only the beginning of other miracles that would follow. How I needed that evidence that possibilities of the unknown do exist, and we are never far apart from those we love.
Almost a year passed before the second of the connection of threes was realized. Living two blocks from the beach, my husband and I had decided to have a bench placed on the boardwalk in memory of our daughter. Much thought had been given to the exact location, for everything had to be just perfect. We selected a place with a full view of the blue ocean, unhindered by the dunes. It was close in proximity to the beach club that Bari had enjoyed every summer, and with a view of the Atlantic Beach Bridge that she often walked as she traveled to and from her job.
Somberly and reverently, we read the touching inscription that began, “Our Beautiful Ray of Sunshine…” when we suddenly noticed a tiny, bright orange ladybug resting on the top slat of the bench, as if it had been waiting for us to arrive. With tears on his cheeks, my husband exclaimed, “I don’t believe in these things, yet it’s almost as if Bari is sending a message that she’s happy with what we have done.”
Our fingers traced the words of the plaque as we bade goodbye to our daughter, and the small, brilliant ladybug seemed to quietly fly away. As we pensively walked to our car, we were completely unaware that the ladybug was following us, and when Dick started the ignition, she flew in through the car window! We were startled and mesmerized, because never before had a ladybug entered our car! We had first noticed her on the bench and then on our dashboard; it was almost as if she wanted to stay with us just a little bit longer. Several long seconds passed before she flew away again, and all we could do was shake our heads and wonder. Could this tiny messenger possibly be another sign, triggering the possibility that, although separated from the physical world, Bari is still with us? Today I travel a new path of enlightenment, because what I saw was more to me than just a ladybug; I believe it was a strong testament to our daughter’s continued presence.
The last third of my amazing trilogy happened more recently, just several months ago. It was a warm, July day, and Dick and I were standing on our driveway. Hovering above the hood of my car was another large, Monarch butterfly. Since I had seen several over the summer I was not surprised, but this one was quite different. It flew near us, around our heads, close to our faces. And then suddenly, almost as if guided by a higher force, the fragile creature rested herself on my shoulder, not very far from my heart. Dick and I remained motionless, afraid that the slightest movement might cause her to fly away. If it had been possible, I would have preserved those seconds forever, but the butterfly eventually floated to the sky above, while I prayed that it was Bari sending me another miraculous message of her love. Sometimes ordinary mornings can lead to extraordinary days.
These three occurrences, truly profound in content, verify my belief that special events can connect, and that they can come in threes. Less skeptical than I used to be, I now am comforted to know that there is far more to heaven and earth than the human mind can comprehend. I have been given a gift that some may not have received, and I am armed with a new insight that has led to a spiritual awakening and gives evidence that cries out, “There is life after physical lives end, and we are connected in mysterious and wonderful ways.”
The butterflies and the ladybug have inspired me to wonder, and they have helped me to smile again. They have deepened the infinite power of Bari’s everlasting love. Though my heart is far from healed, and a gaping hole remains that often shields life’s beauty and sometimes stifles my joy, that which I have experienced is proof to me of a world beyond that we do not completely know.