Today is my older sister’s birthday; well, it was my older sister’s birthday but she isn’t celebrating birthdays any more, at least not here on earth. Jeannie (my sis) passed away a couple of years ago now. I still miss her, just like I miss my Mom, my grandmother (Mommo) and my Mom’s only sister, my Aunt Judy (AJ).

My Mom was from Tennessee. I spent many, many summers there as a child, and my older sister grew up there – don’t ask, our family is kinda’ complicated. Anyway, all these beautiful women always all lump together in my head, all my “Southern Belles.” Each was an incredible woman in her own way and together, well, the dynamic when they were all assembled in the same room was amazing.

I loved every one of them. And they all loved me back. I miss them.

My aunt AJ (great aunt, technically) passed away first, then my Mommo, then my Mom and finally Jeannie. With each passing, a little bit of my heart died too, but we “always made it through.” And – weird as this sounds – as each one of these lovely women passed away, the remaining ones swore that the departed ones “appeared” to them as butterflies. In fact, at my sister’s memorial, someone sent live butterflies to be released graveside after the service. The odd truth is that, after the butterflies were released, most of them circled the people gathered there and just sort of flitted around and “hung out.” Several theories were put forth as to why this happened – they smelled the ladies’ perfume, they were disoriented after release, they wanted to hang in the shade – so many explanations.

I think they were maybe being directed by my Mom, my Mommo and AJ, helping guide my sister Jeannie across…

butterfliesSo yeah, anyway – today? As I was outside the store, checking to see if it was going to rain, I glanced over at this huge planter in front of our window and there it was, a small white butterfly. As I walked towards it, I grinned as it just sat there on a flower, opening and closing its wings ever so slowly, luring me closer… I smiled.

small whiteWhen I got almost close enough to touch it, the butterfly opened its wings fully and just stopped. It looked so beautiful, the bright white wings against the rich foliage. I smiled again, then looked around, made sure no one could hear me, and asked,

“OK, which one are you? Jeannie? Mom? Mommo? AJ?”

The butterfly opened and closed its wings twice – probably some sort of cryptic butterfly “code” I do not understand – then lifted up off the flower and flitted away. I stood and watched it until I couldn’t see it any more. And then I smiled one more time.

Happy Birthday, Sis! I hope know you four are celebrating today… I’m glad.

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