Thursday, December 22, 2023
More light is coming. On this first morning after the Winter Solstice, we’ve been promised that – and I believe it. Partially because I believe in dragonflies…
My Mom died in October 2005. Somehow throughout our lives, she had a way of showing up at all the best times for my sisters and me. So often she would show up wordlessly, intuitively to offer support and encouragement. She did that for me three years ago and especially in these again growing lighter days, I continue to treasure her gift.
That Spring into Summer of 2019, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. On what started as a typical Saturday in April, my world abruptly stopped turning on its axis. And because life sometimes just happens as it happens, that afternoon I’d been asked to lead a retreat with women from our church.
When we arrived at the retreat, we were given a couple hours to wander around the property. There was a lake, and I headed out to it. I found a spot in the sun and tried to catch my breath and find my heart. Time passed and I noticed that several dragonflies kept circling round, some landing on my arms and legs. There were so many dragonflies that at one point I wondered if I was in danger of being stung to death (if they had stingers) or at some point they would carry me off someplace…
My friend, Kent was hosting the retreat at her farm. She and her husband, Bob were amazing artists, and their works could be found all around the property. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I was walking back to join the group that I saw a 20-foot metal, red dragonfly looking as though it was taking off from the water. I remember wondering how I could have passed it earlier and not seen it. Right foot, left foot.
Throughout that summer, I kept seeing dragonflies in the most unexpected places. Many of those sightings were when my friend, Kimberly and I were playing golf. I could most always see one or two of them when we were teeing off at the 9th hole. Those summer days were hard days for me. I felt robotic, conveyer-belting my way through most of my days, with very few moments of feeling alive and awake. Right foot, left foot. During that summer, I was also training for 2 triathlons, one in June and the other at the end of August. It was on the day of the June Tri at Calloway that I came to understand Mom’s gift.
Sister, Betsey was my coach and tri-partner. We had finished the swim and were on our 10-mile biking challenge. I’d gotten off the bike for two hills already and on my third hill, I got off and put my head on the bike seat, “Go on, Bets. Leave me here. I can’t do it.” Sweet sister just grabbed her water bottle, took a sip and said something kind like, “It’s OK. I can wait. I’m not leaving.” And she didn’t. Soon after I re-mounted, finished the bike, went on and finished the 5K. And (proud to tell you) I achieved my two goals: “I won’t be last, and I won’t die.” Later that afternoon we all went to the pool to cool off. I was sitting on a lounge chair, reading a book when a dragonfly landed on my knee. In that moment, the dragonfly - finally - had my full attention. She (my dragonfly friend) turned and faced me, and when she did, I knew. Immediately I came to understand. “Hi, Mom,” I said.
In that moment I understood that Mom had been with me all along. She'd been right there back in April when my world stopped turning and she was there with me on that day at Callaway. In that moment my heart knew that she had been with me the whole time. She had been there in that 20-foot red dragonfly taking off from my friend’s lake and she was still there with me on that sunny, warm June day after the triathlon.
She continues with me, still.
Light returns. Sometimes Light even comes back stronger. Dragonflies, and as it turns out, I believe that Mom had been with me when I needed them most. Mom didn’t have advice or words of wisdom; she didn’t solve my problem or take my pain away. She was there with me. And the gift for me was and continues as I am typing this story, that – by taking on the whimsy and persistence of the dragonfly – she’d journeyed with me – the whole damn time.
My deep thanks to Dave for sharing this picture