After Alissa and Robbie Parker's six-old-daughter Emilie was shot and killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook School, the grieving couple started a blog to honor her memory. This is a recent essay Alissa posted about her fallen child titled 'Butterfly.'
Last Spring, Emilie was given a live butterfly garden kit for free at a yard sale. She lovingly stared at the box the whole way home talking and talking about how she was finally going to have a real butterfly for a pet! I tried to explain that once the butterfly came out of its chrysalis, that she would have to set it free. Emilie shrugged off my pessimistic comment and continued to explain why her butterfly would be different. She would love and care for her butterfly so well, that it couldn't possibly leave her. I smiled and then rolled my eyes.
Weeks passed and we watched her science project come to life in the hanging basket strung up in the corner of her room. Everyday we would peek in and look to see if there were any changes yet. Then finally, one morning, the first butterfly had emerged! In a few days, the rest of them would be ready and we would have to let the butterflies go free. While we all excitedly talked about the upcoming liberation, I could see the disappointment in Emilie's eyes. When I asked her if everything was okay and she just shrug her shoulders and walked away.
The day finally came to let the butterflies free and the whole family gathered in front of the house to watch. On my way out, Emilie quietly pulled me aside and asked, "Do you think at least one butterfly will sit on my finger before it flies away?". I sheepishly smiled at her, not wanting to get her hopes up and simply said that I had never seen that happen before, but you never know!
The girls all gathered around the basket and Emilie began to unzip the lid and pull it back to let the butterflies out. One by one each of the butterflies flew up into the sky and fluttered around the yard. Madeline and Samantha were ecstatic and screaming with excitement. Emilie, on the other hand, looked disappointed. She leaned up against her bike with a flat expression on her face. I knew she was sad that none of the butterflies had landed on her finger.
I miss Em a lot lately. I miss everything about her sweet beautiful face smiling up at me. It is sometimes hard to understand why I don't still have my little butterfly. There are days when my face I am sure looks a lot like Emilie's did the day we let her butterflies go. I want her to be with me. I want to hold her and listen to her constant talking. I pray for help, strength and patience to endure the longing my heart feels for my little girl.
Last week, I was having a particularly hard day. School was over and it was so beautiful outside, that we decided to play in the backyard for a bit. Madeline and Samantha both jumped on the swings and I sat down on the grass to watch. A few minutes later, Madeline leaped off the swing and came running towards me pointing into the air and shouting for me to look up. A large beautiful butterfly was flying by and softly landed on the ground in front of me. It was gorgeous!
Madeline bent down to get a closer look and said, "Mom, I think I want to hold it." And I automatically responded, "Madeline, butterflies don't really like…" My eyes widened and my heart stopped as I watched this beautiful butterfly walk right onto Madeline's open hand. I couldn't believe it. I truly had never seen something like that before. In that moment, I could feel my body being filled with love and happiness. I could feel her, my baby with me. It was wonderful. Madeline held the butterfly up to her face to get a closer view and then smiled up at me with excitement. She then turned to Samantha and asked if she wanted a turn too. Samantha excitedly held her hand next to Madeline's and I watched in shock as the butterfly was passed easily over onto her hand. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was amazing! A few moments later, the butterfly flew away and I was left catching my breath wondering if what I just saw really had happened at all.
Again, it was wonderful. It was… a good day.