Someone in a business group I belong to came up with the idea of having a word for the year. A word to motivate him – his theme for the new year. His word is “growth”. This word is, as he explained, for both business and personal aspects of his life. He challenged the rest of us to think of our word for 2016. So, I thought about this for a while and came up with several words that I thought might work. Then it hit me. My word is “butterfly”.
Yes, I know, I’ve written about the yellow butterflies being the symbol of my mom. It was back in mid-April just a week or so after my mom passed away when I saw that first yellow butterfly as I was out running. At that moment, as I said to my mom, “I hope you are okay,” the yellow butterfly floated across my path. (Yellow was my mom’s favorite color.) The butterflies stayed with me all summer and into the fall, showing up at that exact moment when I was talking to mom. I know it was her, speaking to me from the afterlife (whatever that might mean to you). It was her way of telling me that she is fine – that she is free – no longer tethered to the oxygen as she was for two years. And, in some ways, I think it was her way of telling me that I was free as well and that I too, would be fine, in time.
So, as the word butterfly entered my brain a few days ago, I began to look back on my life over the past few years. From March 2013 when my mom was diagnosed with the pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) that put her on the oxygen, to her passing on April 4, 2015. A time that I am grateful to have been living with my parents. To have had that time with my mom. Thinking of all that we endured as a family knowing this condition was incurable. All that my mom went through, the changes in her life. It was like she was in a cocoon as she was no longer free to simply go out of the house easily to do what she wanted. And in many ways, maybe I too was in a cocoon, as the butterfly is, as I felt that I couldn’t leave…I didn’t want to leave, knowing time with her was slipping away. And certainly, in these past 9 months, as I’ve grieved, I’ve been in a sort of cocoon. Some days easier than others, but many days of feeling lost and in the dark without my sweet little mama.
But, as I look forward to this new year, I am filled with hope. I feel a sense of renewal and rebirth – like perhaps I’m ready to break out of that confining space and spread my wings. I know my mom would want me to follow my dreams, to chase those rainbows. She always encouraged me and my sister and brother to do so. And, with the big 5-0 looming in a few short weeks, I know it’s time for me to break free, just as my mom did as she passed on. It’s time for me to be the new and improved Lynne.
I’ve written about how I am forever changed by this journey I’ve been on with my mom and all of my family. Many of you know that grief is not something you “get over”. It’s with you, always, just as that loved one that has left the earth is forever in your heart. And, it alters you in ways that are difficult to explain to those who have not experienced such a loss. For me, I feel that I am changed for the better. And, even though there is a huge hole in my heart, I know that I have more patience, more compassion and a better understanding of life.
As I move forward in 2016 I am thinking of the butterfly breaking free of that cocoon. Of that rebirth and renewal. I’m thinking of the metamorphosis I’ve undergone these past 3 years – from the time of my mom’s diagnosis until this very day as I wade through this first year without her. So, for me my word – butterfly – symbolizes the new me. The changed Lynne. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still me in so many ways. But, I am different too.
And, admittedly, it is also my word for Wander Your Way. I am making some tweaks to my business to make it more focused and more dynamic. To make it grow and change as I have grown and changed. The rebirth of Wander Your Way to go along with the renewal of Lynne.
I’ll still be planning any trip you want me to. I’m adaptable like that. But, my focus is on that independent Europe trip. Those of you who are seeking to have that authentic experience as you travel to Europe. Those of you looking for those “off the beaten path” destinations or those unique experiences. To me, this is the way to travel.
So, for me the butterfly, the symbol of my mom, is my word. It’s a symbol of a metamorphosis, of change, of renewal and of rebirth. I know that as this year moves along I’ll stretch my wings more and more, both personally and professionally. That I’ll begin to feel more alive than I have in this past year. I know too, that I’ll never get over the loss of my mom. But, that loss is a part of life – of growth and change. And we take it in, roll it around inside of us, and come out of it on the other side – renewed and ready to fly.