Contest Entry Three, Why Butterflies are Important in my Life
My grandmother was always a huge fan of the color lavender and butterflies. When I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, we didn’t want to tell her at first because she would have been crushed. She was so insightful, she knew something was wrong and prayed everyday that her first born granddaughter would be cancer free. On June 6th, I received the best news ever – they had removed all of my thyroid, quite a few lymph nodes and ALL of the cancer. I was cancer-free! Unfortunately, my time celebrating ended a short 9 days later, when my grandmother passed away from a massive stroke.
I was given the daunting task of reading her eulogy. Her name was Grace, and while I had so many fond memories of my Grammy, I couldn’t think of where to start. For some reason, I was drawn to looking up the meaning of the color lavender: “Lavender has long been a favorite flower and color of genteel ladies. This shade of purple suggests refinement along with grace, elegance, and something special.” That description fit my grandmother to a T! I decided, to honor her, that I would wear something lavender for her funeral. That night, while continuing to write the eulogy, my young cousin, who was 5 at the time, told me how our Grammy loved butterflies and that the day she went, his kindergarten class released butterflies into the sky. He commented that he thought they would help Grammy on her journey. Needless to say, I was choked up.
After the eulogy and funeral mass, my young cousin and I went to the cemetery. He had difficulty understanding where Grammy was, since everyone was sending her off over a “dirt in the ground.” I sat down with him and discussed Grammy’s body being tired and needing to stay with Grampy, but that her spirit was in a better place. He looked at me, confused, and asked “how do I talk to Grammy?” I told him that Grammy would always be in our hearts, but that whenever there was a breeze, it was Grammy giving us a great big hug to let us know she hears us. At that exact moment, the perfectly still air became a gentle comforting breeze and a little lavender butterfly landed on the tombstone. He looked up at me and said “Hi Grammy, thanks for the hug.”
It was an absolutely amazing experience. Shortly after, I was told that the Butterfly is a symbol for Thyroid Cancer. Everywhere I go, I see butterflies and always feel her presence with me.
A butterfly not only reminds me of the challenge I overcame in my cancer diagnosis, but reminds me of my very special my grandmother being with me everywhere I go.
I have been a thyroid cancer survivor for 2 1/2 years. I am 30 and live in Massachusetts.
Written by, Stephanie Corliss
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