Mother and the Butterfly


I was standing in the yard with my dog and the strangest thing occurred, I smelled vanilla and then  I saw a blue butterfly.  It fluttered so gracefully and I began thinking of my mother.  She always smells of vanilla.  She used to paint or make me blue butterflies when I was young.  She has even bought me a few but I’ve never actually have seen a live one before, until now.  I am entranced by it and then it fluttered off.  I go inside and receive a call my mother has been admitted to the ICU.  I get in my car and head to the hospital.

I rushed out of the car and walked what seemed a mile to get to the emergency doors but paused for a moment, distracted as another blue butterfly fluttered pass me.   Two blue butterflies in one day?  Is this a sign of something?  I gain my senses and head inside. 

Once inside I find myself a mouse in a maze attempting to find the intensive care unit.  I try to remember when was the last time I visited my folks.  What did we talk about?  It’s hazy now and I realize it has been some time since I had seen or talked with my mom.  I find a sign to the ICU waiting room and follow it down more halls but at the end I find I have more questions than answers.  How long has she been sick? Was this really something sudden?  What happened?  I see a woman crying and talking on her phone as I pass her in the hall.  I see three people in scrubs talking and joking with each other.  The place is pretty barren other than that.  Although it is rather late now.  I find the ICU hall and turn down one hall to enter into another.  The smell becomes a sweet sanitary stinch and I feel myself become queasy and realize the sign says I’m here but I’m confused.  My eyes become liquid as my thoughts run rampant.  I realize she may die.  I see a waiting area but no entry, only close doors.  There are people sitting beyond the glass in the waiting room.  One woman has her young child asleep on her with her arms wrapped around her.  Her face shows worry and sadness.  Two teenagers sit there fiddling with there phones and an elderly man is staring at the phone on the wall.  Perhaps he is waiting for news.  He looks worried too.  

Unclear of where to go, I feel shut out and closed off, as I feel the nausea creep up.  No one else is around, it all feels so surreal.  Then within the blur of my sight comes into my vision a nurse in green scrubs.  She gave me instructions and I discover there was north and south ICU ward.  Mom is in the north and I am in the south.  So typical that I would be on the opposite side of her. I frantically walk down the endless hallways.  It was always like that with us.  She was big on meat, I’m a vegetarian, she believes in marriage and I see no value in it for me.  I love having pets and she isn’t a fan.  Our relationship has always been a difficult one.  The list of the things we are opposite on could go on for days.  I finally find my way and I’ve been let in into the ward.

My mind reels with what my father told me over the phone before I got here.  His voice cracked as he strained to say it.  He sobbed, “She is critical, she could die, she is having trouble breathing and her stomach is bleeding out. ”

I’m not gonna cry but my vision blurs.  I blink to clearly see and the memory runs wet down my cheeks.   I remember her singing to me when I was five, singing happy birthday.  She made me a yellow bunny cake. I don’t know why I remember this now.  

I deeply breath in and breath out.  I’m greeted by the anesthesiologist who has me sign paperwork for her surgery.  People in scrubs are working at a fast pace and my mind begins to slow as I finally catch wind to what the anesthesiologist is telling me.

“Are you next of kin?” 

 “Um yeah, I’m her daughter.”

“Ok did you speak to the nurse yet?” 

 “No I just got here.”

“The doctor will be in soon and will explain it to you.  Tomorrow she will have surgery. We need your signature here to authorize.” 

 I sign the paperwork.  I am told which room she is in.  I step inside to complete chaos.  There she is,  still within the mess of tubes and machines.  Nurses and doctors speaking  medical mumbo jumbo lingo and the room is full of people.  I see her eyes open and locked on to the ceiling. 

My father had stepped out to call her brothers.   She was stable when he left.   Then the machines made a racket and she shook and the machine made a horrible noise a beep that froze.  It was deafing and I call out her name and the tears flow from my eyes now.  I rush to grab her hand but they pull me away.   They usher me out as she flatlines.  They close the blinds so I can’t see in.  My heart is racing, terrified. 

Then I smell the scent of vanilla again and to my amazement a blue butterfly appears as tears flow from my broken heart and I realize somehow she is with me right now.  I can feel her.  I whisper to the butterfly, “I love you mom, please don’t go, not yet.”   I look up and hear the beat on the machine resume a beep sound and someone say that she has a heartbeat.   I look up and when I looked backed down the butterfly was gone.   Once things calmed down and my mother was stable again, my dad returned and they let us back into the room with her.


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