On Julie's birthday (and our anniversary), I always replace the ever-present artificial flowers with fresh.
Oh, Julie like fake flowers, but she loved fresh flowers!
This year was no exception...
Actually, the day began (with the assistance of brother-in-law John) with a trip to Mounds to retrieve Rachel's "Fifi" (the Saab she left for me to babysit whilst she explores Africa. One of the power windows "died" and needed repair.)
I had left the car (with John's previous assistance) in the shop the week before, and so when the call came that it was ready (after the parts finally arrived from lands most distant), I called upon John to drive me to Mounds.
On the way up, I mentioned my practice of acquiring and placing fresh flower at the cemetery on Julie's birthday...that as soon as I picked up the car, I was heading to Cape Girardeau rather than directly home. John offered to accompany me which I happily accepted...an impromptu "surprise birthday party".
We acquired a beautiful bouquet of flowers, placed them at the grave site, and took time to reminisce and reflect. We then departed for Mounds to retrieve John's car and to go our separate ways.
I truly enjoyed John's company, but I still felt a need for my own "private time" on this special day.
Turns out that this was totally convenient. Some friends had invited me to lunch that day...in Cape Girardeau. Yep, trip number two to Cape!
After lunch, I returned to the cemetery...
...and had a new "butterfly experience".
I rearranged the flowers to my liking and then took time for my own personal reflection and prayer. When I was finished, I noticed that there was some dirt and grass at the base of the little "pink angel" figurine that I had placed previously. As I reached out to pick up the angel in order to remove the refuse, lo and behold...a butterfly landed on my hand!
I know, I know...
...here he goes again, asking us to believe that he is receiving signs, sent by a loving spirit from beyond.
And, as always, he says: "Trust me!"
Isn't God great...
...creating cell phones with cameras?
I will bypass relating the contortionist act required to get the cell phone out of my right pant pocket with my left hand, launching the camera app, all the while expecting the butterfly to take off and leave me to my "Trust me!" routine.
As you can clearly see, the butterfly remained in place for a confirming photo op!
As the butterfly stayed, I had further thoughts of "Trust, but verify."
I walked down the hill from the grave site (trusty cell phone/camera in one hand, butterfly on the other) to my car. My thought...take a picture of the butterfly on my hand juxtaposed to my license plate, proof that it was indeed my hand...
And, as further proof for those who have seen my shiny new red car...
...I still have a nagging thought.
"Where did you buy the fake butterfly, Ron?"
"Couldn't you have sprung for a bigger, more colorful, more impressive member of the species...maybe a giant Monarch?"
Guess I need to learn how to operate the video recording function on my phone.
Then you could have seen the butterfly take flight after I had gotten behind the wheel of the car and was attempting to turn on the ignition with my left hand...
All I can say is: "Trust me!"
I am sure that you expect me to pronounce that this was "A Sign".
It has all the makings, that's for sure! Julie's birthday and my previous butterfly experience...well, duh!
I have to admit...
For years I have anticipated another experience. When I would go to the cemetery and watched the butterflies flitting about, I actually hoped that one would land in the fashion described/pictured above, but it never happened, never even came close. Butterflies are evidently a cautious lot.
So, now that it has happened...
...surely, it must be a sign!
Actually, I think it's "a sign" of the scorching summer that we have experienced in Southern Illinois. What vegetation there is is whithered and dry. Flowers in the area of the cemetery...forgetaboutit!
Few and far between.
So, a lone vase of fresh flowers might well attract a neighborhood butterfly...where in the past, there might have been several choices.
The butterfly alighting on my hand?
As I noted above, I had rearranged the flowers just prior...most likely getting nectar on my hands...freshly agitated nectar...a butterfly magnet!
I know what scientists would say, those who casually dispense of UFOs as weather balloons. In fact, I just presented a logical, reasonable explanation on their behalf.
On the other "hand"...
Happy birthday, Julie!
I hope you liked the flowers.
Thank you for the butterfly!
Actually, I truly think there is "A Sign" revealed in this experience.
Julie's birthday is August 17th...
...the "butterfly experience" occurred on that date.
I am typing this "reported sighting" on September 1st, a full two weeks later.
As those of you who have followed my writing of "The Book" well know, that delay is totally out of character. In the past, when something "happened"...I dashed to the keyboard to file my report.
This time, I just couldn't do it...
...kept putting if off.
Maybe this is "A Sign"...
...that the grieving process is complete, that final acceptance has been achieved.
I don't know, and I'm not going to dwell upon it.
I do know that I still love Julie with all my heart and soul...pray daily to join her. God knows that I miss her...24/7.
...I've reached the point where I just can't go down this road anymore.
Unless I run across a "new" picture or article...
...this is that final entry that I have been promising for so long.
Next month, it will be five years...
My daily prayer:
...God bless Christie.
Grant them peace and eternal life...
...allow them what they never had on earth, time together.
And, Dear God, if it can be within your will...
...please, let me join them soon.