4.19.2012

we all know about the hive and the honey bees


Whenever Ethan and I go to Butterfly World (which is often, as it is our favorite place for quiet mornings or lazy afternoons), I am reminded of my Bubbie. As Alzheimer's began to take her over and we, her children and grandchildren, began to tend to her as one would a child, I loved letting her give into childish joys. I'd bring her to Butterfly World and hold her hand like I was the parent and she was the child. She would point out butterflies, admire their colors and beauty, and on we would stroll. I would stop at the cafe and purchase her a lemonade which made her smile as she would take one sip and then forget about it until it was warm and another old cup lining the floorboard of my mess of a car. Sometimes I would buy her an ice cream cone -- always butter pecan -- and she would finish every last bite with a smile on her face. My Bubbie loved birds, and with the innocence of a child she would smile down at the lorikeets inquisitively as they perched on her hand and lapped up the nectar. She didn't ask questions and for that brief time she wasn't confused, just solely enjoying the beauties of nature like anyone else. Though I rarely refer to her moments with Alzheimer's disease as my fondest memories, those afternoons at Butterfly World often are. Each dollar I paid the attendant in exchange for a cup of nectar so she could marvel in the wonders of the lorikeets was my way of trying to repay her for the moments of my childhood that she filled with magic.


As I visit Butterfly World with Ethan these days, I'm always silently wishing that Bubbie could be here with us to marvel in the sights and sounds, to peacefully stroll through the tranquil gardens with us. My Bubbie has been on my mind more than ever lately and today was no different. Ethan and I stopped to admire a flock of butterflies eating from a plate of overripe bananas. As we sat on a bench I sat on with Bubbie many times over the years, I contemplated how unfair it was that Bubbie wasn't here and how I wished so much that she could be.

And then, in a way, maybe she was.



A beautiful white butterfly with tattered wings landed on Ethan. There it stayed for nearly a half an hour as we continued to browse the gardens. Ethan stared at the magnificent insect, smiled, and continued on like it was nothing unusual. He drank from his straw cup, he munched on his puffs, and still the butterfly sat upon his arm. After a while, there was a clang from a door that a group of elementary students on a field trip slammed too hard. The butterfly flew away then, up past the lilac flowers and then past where we could see. Ethan watched until he could no longer make out the butterfly and then returned to his puffs.


When I was younger, my favorite part about Butterfly World was the opportunity to adopt a pupa and watch it hatch into a beautiful butterfly. Before exiting, Ethan and I stopped at the gift shop and browsed the selection of pupas looking for a place to hatch and spread their wings. We selected a Monarch pupa because it was the only one if it's kind left, seeming lonely amongst the Swallowtails and Julias.


We named the pupa Chaia. If I ever had a girl, I would love to name her Chaia. It is one of my favorite names. My husband, on the other hand, has given that name an absolutely not and so Chaia became the pupa and, soon, the butterfly that will live on in memories, photographs and then in nature far away from us. Chaia means life, which seemed only appropriate of a choice on many levels. A way to remember my Bubbie's life, a name that reminded me of the song she'd always sing (L'chaim, l'chaim to life, to life!), a name that symbolized the beautiful butterfly that would soon emerge. The clerk told us that the butterfly would likely emerge early in the morning and that we'd likely wake up to see her flapping her wings. With that in mind, I imagined that Ethan's bedroom would be a fitting place for Chaia to reside in the mean time until the morning they can wake up together.


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