How blue butterflies became a symbol of hope for us

One day last summer, we got horrible news at the hospital. Bennett had a new tumor for the first time. We were no longer just waiting for post-radiation swelling to go down. We now had evidence that the cancer was spreading in new areas of Bennett’s brain and on his spine. I was devastated. Everyday of Bennett’s radiation treatment, John and I went to pray in the chapel at the hospital. We always prayed that God would prevent the cancer from spreading while there was little to keep opportunistic tumor cells from seeding into new areas that were not receiving radiation. For the first time, I really felt like the darkness of the disease was overpowering the light of our faith and love. That was really hard for me to deal with and I knew I needed to talk to someone to help me out of the pit I was falling into rapidly.

I decided to call my friend Nancy to see if she could help get me grounded again. Before I even got a chance to tell her everything we learned from Bennett’s latest MRI, she told me that she had a lump on her thyroid gland. The doctors were not sure what the mass was, but they encouraged her to schedule a biopsy. I thought, “What on earth is happening. All the people I care about most in the world were having problems with their health.” She told me that a group of her friends get together and dance every week. Of the five women in her dance group, three of them have some kind of thyroid problem. One woman had a malignant tumor; one had a benign condition, and Nancy’s was undiagnosed at the time. Her dance partners decided to use a symbol to channel healing energy for their group. They chose a butterfly because the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly. They chose blue for the color of healing. I thought it was an awesome idea. I liked it, but this still is not the reason blue butterflies became important to us.

I finally told Nancy the bad news that we got earlier in the day. I told her how hopeless I was beginning to feel, and how I really did not want to feel this way for Bennett’s sake. I was very upset and crying. And Nancy told me, “right now you feel like you are spiraling downward into a deep dark abyss. You feel like you are spinning out of control, and that you will never reach stable ground again. But you will touch the mossy, rocky bottom, and push yourself up to the light.”

Simultaneously with her saying the word light, I looked up to the ceiling of our apartment. Dangling from the water sprinkler was a small blue butterfly finger puppet that had been hanging there for weeks without catching my attention. When I saw the puppet spinning around on its string instantly I knew, I just have to keep looking up. To look into the darkness of our worst fears and worries was no way to live. I just have to keep looking up. I just have to keep searching for blue butterflies. I feel it was God’s way of helping me find hope in my despair and light in my darkest moments.

Later I learned that butterflies were a universal symbol of hope. One week later the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article describing how Jews in the Nazi death camps drew butterflies on the walls of their encampment. Since then I have seen a bazillion blue butterflies in every shape and shade imaginable. I get cards all the time that have blue butterflies on them. Every time I see one, I see it as a message from God, a reminder to keep looking up and keep focused on the light and love of the world no matter how difficult that seems. Blue butterflies are magical, and I hope you will start looking for them too!