My daughter spotted the three butterflies right away and within seconds, she was chasing them with great excitement. Her little brother also joined in on the fun, and their laughter was both contagious and beautiful. It was a gorgeous summer day and quite a different scene from when my husband Brian and I visited here for the first time. On that day, we were alone and sobbing; heartbroken and devastated. That was almost seven years ago.
Today, there was laughter. I wiped away tears from my eyes. We had come full circle.
From death, also came life.
Liam Jude was our firstborn and he died at nine days old due to a congenital heart defect. For the first couple of months after his death, we visited this spot almost daily. We were horribly depressed, the grief unbearable at times.
One day, I spotted another couple at a nearby grave. They put down a blanket and almost, as if by magic, a young boy appeared. They weren’t alone. They had another son. He joined them in visiting his big brother. I couldn’t stop crying after that, but they were happy tears. It was the first time since Liam’s loss that I felt joy in my heart.
Our bereavement support groups saved Brian and me. We met others like us who lost a firstborn, some of whom had already gone on to have other children. One day, our group leader took me aside. She saw it, the blankness in my eyes. She sensed the great sorrow in my heart. It was paralyzing me. She had suffered her loss many years ago. She told me to hold on to one thing: hope.
A few months later, when I became pregnant again, I had mixed feelings. Happiness, worry and guilt were just a few of the emotions that hit me hard. But, I remembered the words of my friend and what she urged me to not let go of. I had to stay positive for my new child.
For some of us who have had losses, butterflies are very significant. Many believe that it is indeed your loved one visiting to say hello.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the spirit of Liam was one of those butterflies. Another could have been my mother, who passed away sixteen years ago.
My daughter, the first baby I birthed after Liam, is growing older. She will be six years old this October. We speak about her big brother. She knows that he passed away because his heart did not work well. She often says that she wished she could have met him. It breaks my heart and always will.
The guilt in which I felt for moving on is why that has stayed with me for all these years. With our children, we have found happiness again. However, our family will never be complete.
My guilt is especially present on days in which we visit the cemetery. It just doesn’t feel right. I should have three children here, not just two. Still, on that day, I decided to explain to my daughter about the butterflies. She smiled. And she went on to chase them even more.