The Yellow Butterfly

Today marks the second  year that my Uncle Charlie, my Dad's only brother and my godfather, passed away after a four-year fight with cancer. My parents were there for his wife Lily today. They celebrated his life at a memorial Mass, with a meal, and visiting the grave. 

And, without fail, at the grave site they were visited by one single butterfly.

The butterfly comes out every time Aunt Lily visits, when she brings flowers and cleans up the headstone. Sometimes it appears that he's not coming, like today, when he showed up just when they were getting ready to leave. Always.


When I write about my uncle, as I did in this post from March 2009, I often talk about the crazy fun we shared -- eating Cuban sandwiches in his adopted hometown of Miami, drinking red wine in our adopted hometown of Birmingham, late nights whenever our family gathered with Uncle Charlie.

With his trademark moustache and love of Irish music, he was an original. I cherish the time I spent with him during his illness. There is now a stillness where his boisterous joy was.

But joy seeps through the cracks of sadness. In speaking his name and remembering how he made us laugh. In the springtime that's finally breaking. In the yellow butterfly that visited Aunt Lily, Mom, and Dad today.

We commissioned  friend Karin Fecteau to paint this butterfly, which hangs in the home that my uncle and aunt shared for more than two decades.

My Uncle Charlie was my partner in crime. His loss still makes me sad, and angry. But there is a yellow butterfly, and light  pours through the cracks.

Related Links:

A Love Story For The Ages - My father's post upon his brother's passing

Happy St. Patrick's Week - In which he reflects upon the past week and its meaning to our family