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Butterflies

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I step out of the black Suburban and start heading out of the gravel parking lot toward the crowd forming. I am in deep despair and practically crawling. My face is red and blotchy from crying, but my eyes begin to sting again with fresh tears beginning to well up. I still have the taste of the salty water from the last batch a few minutes ago. I feel as if I am drowning in emotions, sadness, depression, hate and love, they take over me. The sky seems to be gradually creeping down suffocating me with it’s deep grey walls of cloud. I mumble to my father, “Why did God want her to leave us so soon?”

He halfheartedly replies, “I don’t know sweetheart, I don’t know.” The tone in his voice sounded like he was in pain, he isn’t using his usual booming voice either. No one wants to talk about my grandma’s death, instead we were moping around with our eyes to the ground, and none of us want to accept the fact that she left us. We were all going to miss her cooking, sewing, artsy skills, motherly intuition, and the way she understood you, your history and feelings just by looking into your eyes. My grandma and I, we had a special bond, we were like peas and carrots, every one of my cousins knew that.

We step into the greyish brick church, our feet tapping the ground to the rhythm of my heart beat. I take in the sight, there are people flowing out the door, other than the reserved seats for us at the front of the church, there isn’t any more room to stand. It looks like a sea of black. The smell of incense hangs in the air, like a cloud of smoke from a cigar. People consistently mumble, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and “our sympathy.” The worst part is they think it will make things okay, but at the same time, it only makes things worse.

The priest begins to speak as we settle into the hard benches of the church, “Phyllis Colovos was a wonderful woman…” The service continues. I am not really paying attention. I just stare at the open coffin. I feel like it is trying to swallow my grandma, and I am the only one who sees it, this infuriates me. Time seems to crawl and at times stop. I think of my memories with her and start to ball, it becomes worse until it’s just a violent hiccup that is uncontrollable, I begin to feel light headed.

When everyone has left the church to ride to the cemetery, my father and I sit there knowing that he and I just need a moment more. My body begins to ache, not as much as my heart hurts from the pain and depression but enough that I want to get into the car and leave. Yet, I just can’t will myself to move. I begin to talk to my dad, but it sounds like I’m talking in a different language due to the slurring, talking under my breath and hiccupping I’m doing. I ask in between blubbering, “I just don’t understand. Why didn’t God tell us He wanted her?”

“He wants us to learn to cope with this, and He knew it was grandma’s time to go. She was in a lot of pain. I know you are hurting honey, we all are. We will never forget her though, don’t worry.” My father softly replies. In some ways that helped me to cope with her death because the minute I heard she was dead I became disconnected from reality and my biggest fear was that I would forget her.

“Then why didn’t grandma tell me she was leaving? I thought we were best friends?” This is making me really upset. I feel so uninformed; I am only getting more enraged. My eyes start to feel hot so I drop my head into my soft hands and it’s all I can do not to cry.

“I wish I knew sweetie. But what I do know is that grandma left plenty for s to remember her by. She even left me this...” He pulls out a book my grandma and I had worked on all summer. In it are beautiful butterflies we had pressed. I look through it as memories come flooding back with each turn of the page. I look at it from cover to cover, than I find a folded crinkly sticky note in the back. In scrawled out hand writing are the words, I had the time of my life with you. I love you more than anything in the world. Don’t tell anyone but you have always had an extra special place in my heart. If you ever miss me or are thinking of me just pull out this book and think of our butterflies, because wherever they are, I will be too. Love forever and always, grandma. I couldn’t take it. I take the book and run outside to the church steps. This is so unfair!

Just as I am ready to throw the book, something in my peripheral vision catches my eye. A little fluttering piece of paper begins to fly around in the wind. It has a beautiful Monarch on the front and reads, ‘Visit the butterflies today!’. While it is skittering past my Mary Jane’s the phrase think of our butterflies comes to mind. I start to think I have the faith and strength to get through this. So I walk to the car where my dad, grab his hand and step into the car, onto the next chapter in my life, because like my grandma always said, “Move on. It’s just another chapter in the past, but don’t close the book, just turn the page…”





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