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.


9. Wish upon a broken heart

"Okay birthday girl, time to go to bed." Mommy's tucking me in. She never tucks me in anymore, but I guess she's in a very good mood. She’s looking at me like she's trying to read my mind and smile at the same time. "Did you have a nice birthday?" "Yes, Mommy. Thank you so much for my party. It was really nice." She's beaming now. "Well, you're most welcome. Are you feeling okay?" Now why wouldn't I? I’m nodding but wondering why she's asking me that. "That’s good. I was just thinking... I mean, you know, I did my best to make it a special day for you even though... You know what I mean." Okay, I do; so just leave it at that. "I’m fine thanks, Mommy. Just tired. I think I’ll sleep like a dog tonight." "Like a log." Huh? "Sleep like a log, not a dog, honey." Oh. What kind of animal's a log? "G’night, mommy." She kisses me on the forehead and wipes something off my cheek. "Sleep tight, my little chocolate girl." She says goodnight to Lisa too and leaves our room. Lisa is babbling on and on about today and all the stuff I got. She’s still excited and I’ll probably have to tell her 3 more times to be quiet.  I’ve got Teddy in my arms and I’m squeezing him tight. Suddenly I feel strange, like I’m nervous about something and my throat feels tight - like something bad is going to happen. "Teddy, what do you think it's going to take for Sis to shut up now?" "I can hear you!" Duh! That’s the plan. "Anyway, I heard Jada teasing Jilly for asking Jerry and Ben if she could feel their muscles and then-- " Unbelievable! "She did what?" Lisa tells me the whole sick story. Ha, ha! I can't wait to tease Jerry and Ben about that! "What else did I miss?" "Nope, that’s it. Will you let me play games on your new phone?" "If you're nice to me and go to sleep now, I’ll think about it." "Promise?" I told you, she'll believe anything you tell her. "Of course. Now go to sleep." Finally! Peace and quiet...


My head is still buzzing from everything that's happened today. Our house is hardly ever as noisy as it's been today and my stomach is cramping just a little bit after pigging out so much. But now that I’m lying here in the darkness with Teddy by my side, all I can think of is Gretel's question: Where's your Daddy? And I know this is going to stick in my head all night and I won't get any sleep, so I think I’m going to try that meditating trick Aunty Mary taught me to do last weekend. Ahem! Right. My eyes are closed. I’m breathing slowly in and out. Oh, no. First I have to turn off the TV in my head. Off. I see only the black screen and I’m breathing slowly. In. Out. In. Out. I see the pin on the screen... What am I doing wrong? I don't see any pictures, just... Okay, wait. Let me try again. Oh, forget it! My head is buzzing too much. Oh Teddy, I can't get this thought out of my head! Daddy should've been here. I’m so sad and you're the only one who knows it. You and my guardian angel, I guess. Angel, help me to fall asleep, please. I don't want to think anymore. Argh! This buzzing won't go away! It’s like a swarm of bees flying around in my head. What’s that? Oh my God! There it is again. "Sis, can you see it too?" The light! The same as the last time... I hear the voice: "I am always with you." Mommyyyy! "Sis, did you hear that?" Now that I want her to be awake, she's asleep. My whole body is shaking now. The light grows bigger and then smaller, like a flame on a candle, like in my nightmare! Oh, it's gone. Just like that! I’m looking everywhere but the room is pitch black. Oh crap… I’ve wet the bed. Sigh. Well, I’m not staying here. Let me change my pants. Come on Teddy, we're not sleeping here tonight.


"Mommy? Mommy, wake up." "What’s wrong? Did you have another bad dream?" "Mommy, I have to ask you something." "What, now? What is it, honey? What’s the matter?" I’m climbing into bed beside her. "Can I please sleep here tonight? I’m scared." She pulls me closer to her and rubs my back. "Sure you can. Was that your question?" "Sorry I woke you up, mommy." "Don’t worry about it. Come on, close your eyes and try to get some sleep." I’m thinking, "Where's your Daddy?” I’m thinking, "Daddy should've been here.” I’m thinking of the voice saying "I’m always with you.” And I’m thinking, "Good people suffer too." "Mommy, is this going to happen to you too?" Now Mommy's wide awake. In the darkness, I can see her eyes go big. "Is what going to happen to me?" She sounds scared so I know she knows what I’m asking her, and I whisper: "What happened to Daddy..." "Oh, honeyyyy!" She's holding me tighter now. I hear Teddy falling onto the floor. "You mustn't worry about things like that, my darling!" I want to ask again so that she will answer me properly but my throat is tight again, so now I’m crying instead. "The truth is I don't know what will happen in the future. None of us knows, so the best we can do is pray to God to protect us and keep us healthy." I’m not satisfied. "But what if it does happen to you!" Tears and snot are making a waterfall down my face. "Shhh, hush now. Listen to Mommy. People get sick all the time. They take medicine and most of the time, they get better. Your Daddy was sick for longer than we knew. By the time he found out he was sick, the medicine that was supposed to help him get better wasn't strong enough. We tried other kinds of medicine but it was too late. Daddy was too sick for us to make him better. That happens sometimes too. Daddy didn't want to die. He wanted to stay with us forever, but his body wasn't strong enough any more and he hurt so much! God took Daddy away because he hurt so much he couldn't stand it. Now he can't feel any more pain. Don’t you think that's better than having Daddy suffer like that?" Yes, I guess so. I’m nodding and sniffing and wiping my eyes. "Of course you do. I knew you'd understand. As for me, well, I certainly hope the same thing doesn't happen to me. That’s why I’m taking care of myself and trying to stay healthy." My voice is a bit croaky but I manage to say, "Me too." "Really? How are you doing that?" "I’ve been watching what I eat: I like when we have vegetables for dinner and I have lots of fruit every day. I’ve been exercising a lot, cycling, shooting hoops and when the summer starts properly, I’m going to swim at Uncle Ron's house as often as I can." I can hear from Mommy's voice that she's smiling. "That sounds very responsible. Good girl. I’m proud of you." Sigh. I’m feeling a bit better now. She didn't tell me she's never going to leave us, but at least we have a plan to try not to get sick. "Is there anything else you need to talk about?" "I’m sorry I’m moody and mean sometimes, Mommy. It’s just that sometimes I feel so bad inside and I don't know what to do about it." "But why don't you tell me when you feel like that?" "Because... I don't know." The voice said, "I am always with you." Was that a message from my guardian angel or from Daddy? "Mommy, do you believe Daddy's in heaven?" "Absolutely." "What happens to you in heaven? Do you become an angel?" "I really don't know, honey. I can't say I know much about angels but I do know that in heaven you meet all the people you love who passed away before you. So Daddy's together again with your Grandpa and Oupa and Ouma and many others. They’re having a grand old time up there but I also believe that they keep an eye on us, to see if we're doing okay. I know your Daddy is because he would want to be sure that his little girls are well and happy." "I miss him so much." She's stroking my hair and I’m feeling sleepier now. "I know, darling. So do I." And that's why I still wish him back.

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