I did not feed it, nurture it, or watch it grow from an egg the size of a pinpoint. I never even enjoyed stroking its soft caterpillar skin. One day, the chrysalis just appeared, attached to the back of a patio chair.
It was quite an unexpected gift to this one who has spent many an afternoon searching the bellies of leaves for any part of the butterfly's life cycle.
Knowing the temptation kindred little fingers would be unable to resist, I sat the chair atop a table and waited for the hatching. Each day, I checked on it, like an expectant mother. Two weeks later, my shoulders slumped when I came home to find the shell empty.
I had missed watching him pump his wings full and hang in silence as they dried before that impressive, inaugural flight. I consoled myself with the thought that perhaps he was the butterfly who kept visiting my grapefruit tree, weaving an airy path among its branches.
This past weekend, though, my broom found the truth. Tucked under a rotted away corner of the outdoor room's door molding lay the lifeless, hollow form--crinkly wings not pumped full.
To think that he survived weeks as a caterpillar, weeks as a chrysalis, only to fail to keep his grasp when hatching, ending the race with the goal in sight.
I wanted to weep for not just this life but for the many I've known over the past year whose minutes were ended...and also for those who were spared by God's grace.
Just this past month, a good friend's baby went home--a baby whose heart stopped beating in the womb while on the monitors at an OB check up, who doctors then said wouldn't survive a surgery. God is gracious.
But just this past week, a seven-year-old only son died after being struck by lightening from a storm still miles away. God help this family.
I have never hugged, kissed, or nurtured either of these children, but the motherly heart of Christ within me aches for the parents striving to hang tight to life's sacred golden strand that cannot be controlled, much less understood.