The Black Butterfly

First of all I want to say an enormous amount of thanks to all of you, who sent your best, positive wishes into the universe for my youngest daughter last week.  Everyone who read my previous post ‘Two Sisters’, will know that my youngest daughter went into hospital to have a tonsillectomy (as a bonus, they also removed her adenoids too).  She’s up and down, but mainly happy – and I am so grateful for this…it’s a joy to see her smile and laugh – thank you all for your support.

What I also feel needs to be acknowledged, is the care and support that we received at the hospital on that day.  From the very beginning, all the way to the point at which we left, the nurses were phenomenal – not resting for a single minute.  Doing everything that they could to help the children in their care.  Calming and encouraging when they needed to be, firm when they needed to be.  They couldn’t do enough for the little ones. Even when I went with my youngest, so that she could be given her anaesthetic, there was a play nurse who was blowing bubbles, making her guffaw with uncontrollable laughter, playing a game with a toy giraffe, she was having so much fun that she went to sleep laughing!  I was totally in awe – and amazed with how smoothly everyone worked together.  It may sound like such a tremendous exaggeration or a cliché but these people were like angels – just doing their best to make everyone better.

My husband and I waited for approximately 30 minutes, whilst they carried out the procedure.  To be honest, I felt relieved – she was being taken care of, by good people and she would be ok.  The agony was etched on my husband’s face though – he hadn’t been allowed to go to the room where the anaesthetic had been administered – and although our youngest had given him a huge hug before going – I could see how helpless and out of control he felt.  I knew that had I been left on the ward and he had gone with her to have the anaesthetic adminstered, I would have felt exactly the same way.

Whilst we waited, I told him about the amazing scene that I had just witnessed, how she hadn’t felt a thing whilst the cannula had been inserted into her left hand, how she been distracted and giggled through the whole thing.  How the anaesthetist explained to my youngest how she was going to go to sleep – and how she fell asleep instantly, when the medication had been given, even I couldn’t believe it.

Earlier on in the morning, whilst the children were being checked and prepped for their procedures, there was another little girl, one year older than ours, who was having grommits inserted into her ears.  Her mum explained to us that her daughter was quite used to hospitals and had had quite a few procedures already for various reasons.  Well, her procedure had taken place before our daughter’s – and when I came back to the ward after the anaesthetic had been adminstered, all that I could hear was ear splitting screaming from this little girl.  She sounded so frightened and in pain at the same time…poor little mite.  All I could think about was how our little one was going to be when she came back….

When they wheeled her back into the ward, I saw her curled up on her side like a little baby, fast asleep.  The nurse effortlessly lifted her up and placed her on the bed in the ward…and we saw a sight that neither of us had expected.  She lifted up her head, responding to our voices and looked around for us, and suddenly blood seemed to gush out from her nose.  The nurses saw the colour drain from our faces and simultaneously helped us to clean our youngest up, whilst reassuring us that everything was fine and this was just normal. They asked me to get into bed with her and keep her warm –  gratefully, I leapt up onto that bed.  If that was a way of being helpful, I would do it.  She whimpered a bit, and was a bit tearful – but delighted that we were both with her, Mummy and Daddy, on either side of her.  My husband made her laugh and she drifted back to sleep again…and then he held onto her little hand and cried.

There is only so long that you can carry on being strong.  There has to come a point when you break down.  And after that you can be strong again.  So he cried – and I rubbed his arm (in that weird, British ‘there, there, you’ll be alright way), and let him cry.  Cry whilst she’s asleep, I thought.  You’ll be her strong, funny daddy when she’s awake again. Which is exactly what happened.

I think at some points in our lives, we’re all guilty of underestimating people. Sadly, we put a ceiling on what we expect from people, and think that we know how they will behave and what they will do…  What a stupid thing to do!

I was convinced that when our youngest was going to wake up, she would be feeling grumpy, in pain and clingy.  In fairness to me though, that’s what she had always done – so it was a prediction based on previous observations.

Now, I’m going to let you into an incident that occured about 20 minutes before my daughter had been taken into surgery.  We were told that she was next for the procedure, so she was waiting patiently on the bed, whilst we talked and joked with her.  To everyone’s complete surprise, a black butterfly flew into our ward and seemed to be searching for something…it fluttered towards our bed…waited for a few seconds…it was as if it was saying, ‘There you are! I’ve been looking for you! You’re going to be just fine!” and then it fluttered away again, back in the direction that it had arrived.

To some of you, that will have seemed like a total non-event – why am I even interrupting my narrative to write about such an inconsequential incident? Well it felt really important to me.  If you ask my eldest what her favourite animal is, she will always shout ‘Tiger!’ in a ferocious voice.  Ask the same question to my youngest, and she will always say ‘Butterfly!’ So, it felt significant that her favourite animal had come to visit her before something very important was going to happen.  I realise that if my eldest’s favourite animal came to visit – that would obviously be terrifying!!

But the other reason that I felt so full of wonder when I saw this huge, black butterfly, was because the ward that we were in, was deep in the heart of the hospital.  There were no open, accessible windows nearby.  It felt as if the butterfly had made an effort to come and visit.  I realise that as I write this, I sound completely insane…but I haven’t finished yet…I also believe that if you find feathers lying around, or if you see butterflies, that means that an angel is close by.  Disclaimer:  This is just what I believe, I have no scientific proof of this, and neither do I force my views down other people’s throats!

What I found unusual, was that the butterflies that we normally see flying around are white or cream, sometimes you see black ones with symmetrical specks of orange and red on their wings.  But this butterfly was huge! And it’s wings were as dark as ebony.  When we got home several hours later, and all was calm in the house, I googled what it meant if you saw a black butterfly – and unanimously it represented a transformation.  A change was about to happen.  For me, that instantly meant that my little girl was going to get better.  She was no longer going to be plagued by constant coughs and colds and sore throats and a runny nose and feeling sad and grumpy and lacking in energy…it meant that things are going to change for her…

…And as I write this blog in my back room, on the dining table, overlooking the garden, I see her playing with her big sister, climbing up the slide, instead of sliding down (something that she would never have been brave enought to do before), she spies me looking at her and gleefully shouts, ‘I’m ok Mummy, carry on with your work!’  I know that she is going to be just fine!

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