Fly Free, Butterfly

It was the first Sunday in September, a beautiful sunny morning for a walk. Yet as I was coming down the home stretch, just a block and a half from my house, I burst into tears.

I was listening to the audiobook Blonde Faith as I walked, and Easy Rawlins’ voice narrator had just read the following passage to me through my headphones:

“There was no greater pleasure when I was a boy than to be stealthy enough to catch the little creatures. One of the only strong memories I had of my mother was her explaining why catching them was wrong.

‘Chile, when you catch ‘em, you rub off the fairy dust, and they lose they magics an’ dies,’ she’d said in a voice whose tone I could no longer recall.

Even in the car forty-two years from that hot day, the tears welled in my eyes. My mother had been everything to me. Big, black, gentler than even the butterflies, she knew the sugars I liked and the colors I wanted; she made things better even before they went wrong.”

I listened to this and had to pause at the curb to collect myself. I took three deep shaky breaths and moved on.

Little did I know that my mother would die eighteen hours later. Little did I know.

But maybe I should have known.

Mommy, on a happy walk, years ago.

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