Year of the Butterfly

Life goes on.. even when you lose someone you love, even when you don't know what to think, how to feel, how to act and what to say. Everything will be okay, is what people like to say, but it won't and you know it. All you can do is bury your grief and hide, and hope on the surface at least life will appear to be normal. Is there any hope?
This is a story of a young girl battling with the loss of her father. Accompany her on a journey of self-discovery and misadventure as she negotiates her way through bereavement and processes the unanswered questions. Along the way, there are dreams, visions and schemes, at least one golden urn and a kidnapping. Her story is about a metamorphosis from pain into renewal and growth. Her destination is a place of hope with a promise of healing.


6. In the meantime...

I got into trouble when we got home because it was almost dark and we forgot to buy milk. Of course it was my fault again! What's new? I could see Lisa was dying to tell Mommy what we'd been doing but I didn't have to say a word to get her mind off that because of what Mommy said to me. "Remember you have a birthday coming up and if you refuse to behave yourself, there will be no more party for you, young lady!" I said I didn't want one and that just made things worse. All Lisa wanted to know was what Mommy had planned, so she forgot all about our little adventure playing detective. "You are such a moody child! You sulk for no reason. When everybody else is happy, you're angry. When everybody else is sad talking about Daddy, you skip and hop around like you're not bothered. I really don't know what to do with you!" I told her I wanted to spend next weekend at Grandma's house. "And then you expect to be rewarded for your bad behaviour. It doesn't work like that, child!" Then she started lecturing about how good actions bring rewards and bad actions bring punishment. Don’t I know it!


Luckily, Lisa and I got sent to our room for getting home so late, so I had a chance to write down the number plate of that yellow car and the address of that house before we forgot. Lisa asked me if I was serious about not having a birthday party. "You can have my birthday if you want it, okay?" That would make her happy. "Because I don't care." She looked at me as if I was crazy but then we remembered how exciting our day was. "Didn’t I cycle really fast?" She was so proud of that, but I’m sure her legs are going to hurt like hell tomorrow and then she'll blame it on me! "About as fast as me actually. Maybe next time you can go cycling with Jada and me." She smiled and asked an important question. She wanted to know what we’re going to do with the ‘evidence’, as she called it. "I don't think we should do anything about it right now. Mommy’s angry with us and I think it's better if we wait until Mommy's mood is better. So we should hide the evidence where only you and I can find it." "Mommy said you are the moody one." Sigh. There we go again, defending Mommy to the death, no matter what! "Yes and so what? I didn't say Mommy is moody. I said that right now she's not in a good mood because we came home late, remember silly? That’s why we got sent to our room. Hellooo!" "Um, okay we can put it in my jewellery box." No, sometimes Mommy, Sue or Peggy open it up to put away her things she leaves lying around the house. We needed to find a place where nobody will bother looking or touching. Teddy. Teddy’s pretty old and has been sitting on my bed forever. Nobody even sees him anymore. He has a big red bow around his neck and so I hid the piece of paper under the bow. The only way to know there's something there, is if you were looking for it. Teddy will keep our secret for sure. We had just put Teddy back on my bed when Mommy walked into our room and gave us both a big fright, but she didn't notice anything. She gave us one last pep talk about riding our bikes outside until late and being irresponsible, and then told us to go have our dinner.


I waited until dinner was finished and I even helped with the dishes, when I asked Mommy again about sleeping over at Grandma's. She called Grandma on the phone and it was decided that I could go spend Saturday night there. I guess she thought I would be excited about it but when I didn't act all excited, she just shook her head and sighed like before when she said she didn't know what to do with me. Actually I really am looking forward to going to Grandma's but now that it's all arranged, I can't stop thinking about our evidence and what to do about it. I can't ask Aunty Mary or my big sisters or my cousins or any of the adults to help me with this, because then I’ll have to tell them how I got this evidence, and that's trouble I won't be able to get out of. So I’ve got this to worry about and the nightmare from last night, and it's all giving me a headache. Maybe I should just focus on one thing at a time. Mommy said we are definitely not missing out on another day of school, so Peggy is going to sleep with us tonight and we are not allowed to watch TV or read any books before bed. Mommy said our minds are overstimulated, whatever that means. Our punishment for coming home late is we are not allowed to go out with our bikes for a week. That’s fine. I can still shoot hoops.


Grandma’s house is not far from ours. Aunty Mary lives with her although she is already old enough to have her own house. She says she's there to take care of Grandma who is very old and Grandma says she's not that old and she takes care of Aunty Mary instead. Aunty Mary is her baby, she says. Her old baby! They have a funny way of talking to each other, always joking and teasing, more like friends than mother and daughter. Grandma is a really good cook, so she always has something delicious to eat. In the meantime I worked out a secret signal with Lisa that means she's in charge of Teddy while I’m gone: I pull at my ear 3 times and to show she understands, she taps her finger on her chin 3 times. I’m doing my bit now and she's looking at me with this crazy smile, and now she's tapping her finger on her forehead. "Is there something on my forehead, Sis?" Her eyes are nearly popping out of her head and again, she taps her forehead. I’m doing my best not to laugh. "What? Who’s crazy?" Now she's stamping her foot and the vein in her neck is standing up. "Noooo! Look!" She starts tapping again and then stops. Oh, yes! That's what I mean… So now she's tapping her chin and I nod at her. "What are you two silly monkeys giggling about?" "Oh, we're just messing around, Mommy. Bye bye, Sis. See you tomorrow!"


Grandma is here to pick me up; she drives really slowly. When she's driving towards a traffic light, she slows down even if the light is green, just in case it turns orange! So it takes us much longer to get to her house than it usually takes anybody else to drive there from our house. I like going to Grandma’s but it's the same as when I’m with Uncle Ron: being with them reminds me of all the times we visited them with Daddy, so it feels nice but sad too because Daddy isn't with us. I know they miss Daddy as much as I do, but they talk about him too much. It makes me feel funny hearing them talking about Daddy as if he's still here, like he's just gone out somewhere for a while and will be coming back later. Daddy used to take us to Grandma's house almost every Sunday morning after Sunday school. Sometimes he would go by the bakery first to buy Grandma some bread or something else nice, and when we got to her house, he would plonk himself down on her couch and ask for something to eat. Sometimes he walked straight into the kitchen and looked inside Grandma's pots. She pretended to scold and then gave him something to eat anyway, and us too. Whenever Aunty Mary was around, she would teach Lisa and me to pull the hair on Daddy's legs to irritate him and he would pretend to stick his finger in his nose and wipe imaginary snot off onto us! That was disgusting, but funny. Now whenever we go to Grandma's, I look at that couch and imagine my Daddy lying there, and it drives me crazy. That’s why I don't get too excited about going to Grandma's place. Well, I’m on a mission today – I have to find a way to do what I must do. Here we are at last! "Okay sweetie, we're first going to have some lovely lunch and then your aunty and I are taking you somewhere she said you would love. Can you guess?" The beach? Okay, it's not warm enough, but maybe we're going for a walk and some ice cream. Or maybe...


"Hello, my angel!" Aunty Mary calls me her angel or her baby. I’m her only godchild. Uncle Ron also calls me his baby, but he's got my 2 cousins although he says they're overgrown adolescents. "Give me a big hug immediately!" We spend the next hour or so chatting about this and that at lunch. As usual Daddy's name comes up in the conversation but I don't let on that I’ve heard and up until now I’ve managed to change the topic without Grandma or Aunty Mary noticing… We’re on our way now. I still haven't guessed where we're going, so they're making me lie flat on the backseat of the car and try to guess where we are from what I can see out the window. Of course all I can see are trees passing by and the sky, and now and then a bus or a truck stopping beside the car. Finally we've arrived and I still have no idea. They’re telling me to sit up and look. "The bookstore?" I should've known! Aunty Mary’s been telling me for weeks that she wants to take me to this bookstore so that we can find some decent books for me to read. You see, I love, love, love reading - almost more than I love riding my bike or shooting hoops. When I read, I feel like I’m living somewhere else, in another person's life. It’s so cool! I’ve asked Mommy if I can go to the library to take out some books, but we haven’t got around to it. So I read anything I can lay my hands on, usually Peggy's books she's already finished reading. Aunty Mary doesn't like it when I read grown up books – she says there are other books I should read first. "We know your birthday is only next week but this is your birthday treat from us: we're going book shopping for you. How does that sound?" I guess they can tell what I think by the way I’m jiggling around and making weird puppy sounds. "Yay! Thank you, Grandma and Aunty Mary, thank you so much!" Suddenly having a birthday doesn't seem so bad after all. Ooh, I want that one...

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