Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Raise a Butterfly

First off, Happy Birthday, Melynda! You're such a sweetheart and I hope you'll have an AMAZING day! You can go visit her HERE.

    Now onto the story of the day. . . .   

Two weeks ago The Scribe got a special delivery of four caterpillars. We knew if taken care of, those caterpillars would turn into monarch butterflies. So we did everything we could, keeping them in a perfect temperature out of direct sunlight and under a slight breeze. One of the cats died quickly despite our best efforts since he hadn't handled the postal journey well. Two of them made cocoons within the next several nights--that was amazing!
    They have gorgeous golden bumps on the bottom side.

But the only remaining cat refused to make its cocoon. This made me nervous since we were supposed to switch them to a larger netted butterfly home as soon as they cocooned. If butterflies don't have enough room once they come out, they will die.
    I watched the slow-crawling caterpillar and soon discovered he had cannibalistic tendencies! He poked the other cocoons, and even climbed on them. He ate much of the tissue paper they hung from. It made me sick--because I'm a pansy and one cocoon almost fell.
    Anyway, the final cat eventually cocooned, but only half-way after days. I realized I had to switch them to a larger container as soon as possible.  That's when something tragic happened; the final cat hadn't made his cocoon right. It swayed and then slapped hard against the ground as I tried moving them!   
    I couldn't pick up the cocoon with my hands because the cat convulsed and like I said before . . . I'm a pansy.
    Something was wrong with the caterpillar for sure now, and maybe even before since he never fully cocooned. But I wanted it to live so badly. I wanted it to get a shot at flying.

    That's when I remembered Zeke. . . .

    Have you ever fought for something? Given everything you could, suddenly realizing there are things worth living and dying for. I would have died just to give my boy a chance. But after we gave him everything we could, in the end, everything wasn't enough.

    I watched the half-cocooned caterpillar flailing and pulled out my iPad. Some directions said, "Glue the end upside down." "Use non-toxic Elmer's glue."  I stood straighter--we could do this. The Scribe tenderly held the half-cocooned caterpillar--she's so brave. I got the glue and we glued him to some paper. He almost instantly stopped moving once we had him upside down, but that night I couldn't sleep. I thought about life. Why are some people and creatures made with imperfections? Why do bad things happen like the cocoon falling or Zeke being born the way he was?
    I know peace can come after loss and it has for me, really. But there are still days when the old hurts ache badly.

    So two days ago, the three cocoons hung, and I worried for the final cat again. Even though he moved slower than the others, had tried climbing on them and only half-cocooned, I still prayed he'd live. I googled it again and found out, "If Elmer's glue has direct contact with caterpillars or monarchs, they will die."  Then to further sicken me, I read that some people raise butterflies just to kill them for art!
    Anyway, the point is that . . . I killed a caterpillar. I couldn't sleep well for nights and in my efforts to save him, I poisoned the poor little guy. The Scribe said maybe he would have died regardless, lacking a complete cocoon. She might be right. I don't know, and it still makes me sad. 
    As I prayed for him yesterday, the front cocoon started rocking.  A split appeared in the cocoon! It was amazing, and so surreal.
    Although, I wish the final cat could have flown, and been beautiful like the two perfectly healthy butterflies that emerged, I need to realize that everything happens for a reason.
 Here is one hanging on the tissue paper.

As I watched them this morning, it reminded me to always enjoy and appreciate what I have.  Yes, the final caterpillar got poisoned in my attempts to save him.  But two healthy butterflies came out and my kids are thrilled.   
    On the same note, yes, Zeke died.  But now I have four wonderful kids to love and take care of. None of them will ever take Zeke's place, because they all have a special place in my heart. 

    We might not understand the reason bad things happen, but we can vow to be happy with what we have.  And for that reality, I'm thankful.

For more about Zeke and his story, please go HERE.

Signing off,


  1. Love how you've woven this story into Zeke's. Thank you for the pictures. I'm reading "The Golden Sky" right now, and it was heart-good to see the pictures of that precious little man, to match my reading. In a few weeks we will celebrate the second birthday of our grandson, Noah, who went home to be with the Lord on the very day he was supposed to be born into our world. While reading the book, I cried for Zeke, I cried for Noah, and amazingly I thanked God for the lives of both these babies, because they have done so much good during such short little lives. It still hurts and none will take their place, but we CAN find comfort and be thankful.

    1. I hope they know each other in Heaven.

      Thank you for this comment. It makes me feel so much better today.


  2. This was beautiful, Elisa. Things happen through no action of ours, but because they just happen. This was such a lovely analogy, and I hope your girls will someday see the connection.

  3. That was so sweet Elisa. I'm glad that at least some of the cats survived. I'm sorry that the problem with them brought your sadness for Zeke so close again; yet I know it's never far from you anyway. Perhaps Zeke is tending to that butterfly right now.

  4. Yeah we never know why things happen, they just do sometimes, shaping us into who we are. Glad at least two survived.

  5. Beautiful analogy. You did the best you could and no-one could have done more. The main thing is you care enough to try.

  6. Sweetheart, You and The Scribe did the best you could. You can never do better than your best. Imperfections exist because we live in an imperfect world. It's not a specific punishment when it happens. God wasn't out to get you when Zeke -- and the caterpillar -- died. We may not ever know the reason, but we can be assured that there is a reason and that God loves us. Zeke is in Heaven and you will meet him there, but not too soon. You have to stay here for now to be Mama to all those adorable children and to be my middle child (anniversary of which is Aug. 21st). You don't know the comfort you bring to your mother from another planet.


  7. Sometimes, no matter how much love and care to try to alter events, things will be as they are going to be. It's hard to take sometimes. So glad the other two are flying free. :)

  8. I think that butterfly wanted to be with Zeke more than with you!

  9. I was going to say something else, but then I read fishducky's comment and found it so profound, beautiful, and comforting that I will just say I think that is exactly what that last butterfly wanted.

  10. So true and poignant. Youngest hatched caterpillars last year in Science class. His was named Sheldon. I have the entire diary of his measurements, appearance, etc. I will likely save that for a long time as it shows the nurturing abilities he has within him. Tenancies NO ONE ever thought he had when he was younger.

  11. Dear Elisa, Fishducky's wisdom speaks loud and clear here. I hope you can accept and embrace her words and let yourself be at peace. Peace.

  12. What wise words! I think you did all that you could for the butterfly that didn't make it. Sometimes in trying to save another living creature we may do the wrong thing, but as long as our heart is in the right place then we did what we did for the right reasons (you didn't poison it for art- that is crazy by the way). Whenever we raise living creatures, chicks, butterflies, puppies, calves, babies, etc.- all we can do is our best. Say positive! :)

  13. In some ways, Zeke is a butterfly forever. We all do the best we can.

  14. I love butterflies. Everytime I see one it reminds me of my Grandma Ann...she loved them too. I like to pretend that she's visiting me when I see one (they way she pretended to see her parents when she saw a butterfly). I have to look back in my archives, but I got some beautiful photos of a monarch making it's way south. It was on our wall by the front door.
    As always, beautifully really put your heart into this story. Thank you.

  15. Thanks for dropping me a note. Reading your post, I feel a little less alone as well. You get it too.

  16. Great story and thanks for sharing the pictures of Zeke. I loved reading that story I was laughing a crying through out.