Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Meaning Behind the Title: 5/10/12

The title "Chasing Butterflies" came to me while I was having a conversation with a friend a week ago. Most of my friends and my family know the symbolism the butterfly carries regarding my sister. Shortly after Andrea passed away, her husband Chris posted one of her favorite quotes on Facebook... "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly." We adopted the butterfly as Andrea's symbol, most notably when we walked in the Purple Stride Philadelphia/Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Walk the November following her passing. The butterfly and butterfly quote were prominent symbols on the Andrea's Army shirts we wore that day. The crazy thing about adopting the butterfly symbol is that it seemed like butterflies were everywhere. Friends of Andrea's were sharing encounters with butterflies in daily life. But, the most intriguing sightings came from the young children of my family. My youngest son was just shy of 2 years-old when Andrea passed and every night when I would rock him in his chair before bed, he'd lift his hand in the air, point and say "butterfly". I would repeat the word butterfly to him to make sure I understood my toddler correctly. And he would say it again... "butterfly". I'd say where? He would just point to the air. I felt like Andrea was in the room with us every night when he went to bed. This went on for over a month. And it felt good, from the first sighting to the last. He would raise his hand, while drinking his milk and say butterfly. My little guy was not the only one who saw butterflies. My brother's little girl was close to 3 when my sister passed. She also saw butterflies. I know we as adults could not see these butterflies, but it was amazing to watch our children raise their eyes and gesture to something or someone that made them happy in those butterfly moments.

One more personal butterfly story I want to share with you has to do with Easter crafts... stickers, foam cut-outs, stuff like that. This was one of the most bizarre butterfly signs I received in the months following my sister's passing. My mother-in-law loves to give my boys presents and they love crafts. One of their Easter gifts from her was a packet of Easter crafts. One night, a few weeks after Easter, my oldest son hands me the packet of craft materials and says "Can you open this?" I oblige and grab a pair of scissors to open the package. As I look down, with the package in my hand, the label catches my eye...

OMG!!! My heart started racing... I had chills when I saw this butterfly. Unbelievable!!!!! Keep in mind that the name Andrea was hard to find on stickers, keychains, etc when we were growing up. I ran upstairs and showed the label to my husband. His response..."Eeh, that's weird..." Now I've had my share of "signs" or reminders of Andrea in the past year and a half, but this one may have freaked me out the most. Freaked me out in a good way.

In the past 18 months, I've become more aware that many people adopt the butterfly as symbol of a loved one who has passed. Obviously, Andrea liked the symbolism of the caterpillar's transformation to a butterfly. When you think about it...  just the idea a caterpillar's metamorphosis is pretty cool. It starts out as a fuzzy bug that crawls along the ground and trees. 2 weeks after the chrysalis is constructed it becomes this beautiful, colorful creature with the ability to reach heights once impossible to them. Now I'm getting really philosophical!!!! So this begs the question... is this what happens when we die? Are we simply caterpillars meandering through this life on earth, biding our time until we reach something greater and more beautiful on the other side? I must say, I find this concept quite comforting. Maybe this idea was comforting to my sister as well. I'm not sure because we never talked about it. In fact, I don't even know how long she had the butterfly quote on her Facebook page. I'm sure many of us didn't know it was there until my brother-in-law brought it to our attention in September of 2010.

One last note on the butterflies... on the 1 year anniversary of my sister's passing, her husband and I decided to have a butterfly release to celebrate Andrea's life. The release was preceded by a very nice mass at the church where she her husband were married. Who knew it was as easy as Googling "butterfly release"? I didn't until I typed it in. I'm glad we did it. A perfect way to celebrate my sister, but...

The thing of it was, I was a nervous wreck and I didn't know why!!!! All we did was open a box of butterflies and send them flying. Some butterflies perched themselves onto flowers that we had handy. The picture that you see for my blog is from Andrea's butterfly release. Getting sidetracked. Where was I going with this... oh yeah, I was a wreck. And I felt this way for the week following the butterfly release.Why...

Well, this is tough for me to share. But at the 1 year anniversary I was very aware that I was desperately looking for signs from Andrea. I was surfing radio stations in the car, constantly looking for songs with "meaning." I was reading books about signs from heaven. I even called in on a conference call with a psychic medium on her anniversary... expecting that I would get picked for a reading. I felt "it's meant to be." It was her anniversary after all. I wasn't picked.

When I finally settled down from a very emotionally draining week following Andrea's anniversary, I started to feel... pathetic. I thought... I'm looking for messages from my sister and she's gone. She's not coming back. And all the signs in the world won't put her voice on the other end of a phone call. That revelation made me very, very sad.

This is what leads me, FINALLY, to the inspiration behind the title of my blog. Back in September of 2011, while I was desperately pleading for signs from my sister, I felt like I was "chasing butterflies."

When butterflies come to us unexpectedly, we appreciate the surprise that this beautiful creature crossed our path. We appreciate the encounter so much more when we meet by chance. Don't you think?


  1. Chris, that was so well written and absolutely beautiful. I was apprehensive at first regarding reading your blog bc it hurts my heart to think of what you are going through and how you get by. I found however, that you are writing for yourself as a form of therapy and people reading it helps keep your sisters memory alive which helps you. I want to help you. YOur sister sounds like such an incredible person and I look forward to learning more about her through your words. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You are an amazing writer-this is a great way to release what's swarming around in your head and heart with the passing of Andrea. It helps other people too. Keep writing and remembering. Love it. xxoo