Owls and butterflies and long-winded sighs


There are signs everywhere.  I’m not talking about the three-dimensional signs that guide us to our destination or give us information, but the signs that are sent from spirits to let us know they are still with us to help us on our journey of healing.

My friend Sandra passed away in May of 2003, very suddenly and far too young.  Her knowledge of my likes and dislikes was astounding and each time she would learn a nugget of information about me it was stored in her ever-expanding cranium.  She knew when I needed comfort and when it was okay to push my buttons.  Since the day I received the horrible news of her untimely passing, every so often I hear a strain or two of a particular song, faintly at first but I know the tune and where it came from as the notes are processed in my brain.  I have been in the grocery store or at a restaurant when the unmistakable bars of “The Girl From Ipanema” hover around my head and pillage my ears.  She knew how much I loathed that song and that is her way of letting me know she is still with me.  I release a loud sigh when I hear it to let her know she got me again and I can vaguely hear the sound of her infectious laugh.

My father passed away in 2006.  He and I both loved owls.  My Grade 10 art project was oil on canvas and I chose to paint an owl for him as his Christmas present.  I now have that painting hanging in my kitchen.  Over last few years I have had a Barred Owl perch itself in the tree that hovers over my deck.  It will sit on the same branch for hours at a time and seems quite content to be there and do nothing else.  I have had some lengthy conversations with my dad while that owl holds its spot and it seems to listen to every word I say.

Last summer my mother and my sister-in-law released butterflies in my dad’s memory.  It was something my mom had always wanted to do.  Since my mom’s passing on March 7th of this year the butterfly seems to be emerging from its cocoon in many aspects of my life.  Almost every sympathy card I have received is adorned with a butterfly.  The card attached to an arrangement of flowers I received has a butterfly in the top left corner.  The song “Dog and Butterfly” by Heart came to mind today and I haven’t heard that song in decades.  And today, while typing the phrase “there are signs everywhere” into Google, one website grabbed my attention over every other one listed and I clicked on the link.  The picture below was the one featured on the site.


Now,  more than ever, I know the spirits of our loved ones stay with us.  It gives me great comfort to know my mom is sending me the message that she is okay on the other side.  It doesn’t diminish the pain of losing her presence from my every day but it does help to know that she is able to talk to me in a way we both understand.  And when summer finally arrives, clawing its way to the surface through the snow and frost-laden ground, I will be waiting for those butterflies to emerge from their cocoons and remind me that life, even after a beautiful creature disappears, does morph into something just as beautiful and ethereal.


16 thoughts on “Owls and butterflies and long-winded sighs

  1. Our lives are morphed by the beautiful lives we get to know.
    I’m glad you have such strong (and beautiful) reminders of those who are still with you every time you think of them.

  2. A good friend of mine just lost another friend this week. I read your piece to her tonight. She was so grateful. She felt it put the proof to experiences she had been having over the past few days. Thank you for helping my friend heal.

  3. Beautiful post, Susan. Whenever I see a dove, I think of my grandmother. Shortly after she passed away, I was sitting at the kitchen table missing her so much. A dove landed on the window seal and watched me for at least 5 minutes. Every time I see a dove, I feel her presence.

  4. My father was a prolific gardener and could grow just about anything. When I told him I wanted to grow rock melons he assured me the climate was all wrong and I could give it a try, but it was just too cold. After he passed I moved to a new house a few blocks away with a huge garden. I cleared the entire yard and planted zucchini. When the zucchini leaves were really large I pulled one aside one day and there was a rock melon sitting under it. I hadn’t planted rock melon seeds and thought someone was playing a joke on me. I followed the vine to find about 10 very large rock melons growing a climate where they should never be able to grow. I was overwhelmed and I knew it was him. He was trying to tell me that nothing is impossible 😀

    Your mother will always send you butterflies to let you know she is right there with you xxx

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss of your mother. It’s so difficult to lose our mother and father – at any age and under any circumstances. You feel so much like an orphan now, but I will hope your spirits continue to bring you comfort during your time of deep sorrow.

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