My grandfather passed away in the fall of 2001, ten days before September 11th rocked our nation. September in Iowa marks the birth of fall, of harvest, and the end of summer days. It is also the season of the Monarch butterfly.
This particular fall my grandfather passed away was, I'm sure, like so many before; the only difference was this fall was tainted with sadness. The night of my grandfather's visitation, our family decided to gather up Monarch butterflies to release at his funeral. We were harvesters on a mission, and when all was said and done, we had two plastic bins full of those amazing creatures.
The next morning, we released them at the end of my grandfather's funeral. It was nothing short of breathtaking. To see them fly away, to whatever home they were going to, was very poignant for all of us.
The Monarch butterfly has become a symbol of love in my family. At my wedding, instead of throwing birdseed or blowing bubbles, we released Monarch butterflies and it was incredible. My cousin recently did the same. For the last eleven years every time we see a Monarch, we remember our papa, smile, and quip that he was coming for a visit.
This particular summer, my family hasn't seen many Monarchs in Iowa, and living in Arizona, my sightings are even more rare. But, in the hours leading up to the time my father's soul left this earth, there was a Monarch butterfly who would flutter outside of his window at the Hospice House. Each time my family would see it, they would share with my dad that his father was checking on him to see how he was doing.
The last Monarch my family saw that morning flew away just as I was arriving to be at my father's side. It was almost as if it was waiting for the last piece of our family puzzle to be put in place.
After my dad passed away, I was trying to explain to my niece, Reese, the significance of the Monarch to us. For the rest of her life, I will remind her to keep looking for the butterflies, they will find her when she least expects it. They will find all of us, just when we need it most.