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....butterflies and grilled cheeses....

I have lost count of the days that we’ve been in quarantine in order to safeguard our health from the (bleeping) COVID-19. My guess is that we’re on day 258.5 (it has really only been 43.75 days). Like everyone in America and most of the world, our daily life has been altered tremendously since we were told to stay home for our own good as well as the good of others. Although this change is temporary, it is still quite an adjustment. We are no strangers to adjusting to life's unexpected twists and turns.

We are closing in on 18 months since we lost our JB, my husband and the father of our three children. Although it’s been 540 days since he’s been gone, it still seems like only yesterday that I was making a “crispy” grilled cheese sandwich for my guy. Isn’t it funny how the perception of time differs from one event to another? Our minds sure like to play with us sometimes. I would like to believe that my mind is keeping my guy close to me right now in order to keep me strong and courageous.

Over the past 540 days, we have purposefully carved out many opportunities to celebrate and remember our JB in so many ways. It all still feels so foreign to not be enjoying life’s moments with him; he’s missing all the fun!! But I know that he’s always here with us, enjoying every minute from his front row seat in Heaven. I also know, as do my sweet children, that this feeling of missing him being here will be with us forever, through every future milestone we live through. We just need to find the extraordinary ways to incorporate his presence into our special moments and to imagine how he would have made those simple moments of life even more special….like the making of a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

As I started preparing for Easter, knowing that my favorite holiday was going to be spent isolated from our extended family as well as our church family, I bought a butterfly growing kit. My hopes were that the timing was such that we could release the Painted Ladies on Easter as we made wishes and said prayers when they flew out of the blue butterfly house. Well, Easter came and went, no butterflies had bloomed yet. I was getting a little worried, thinking that I had messed up and killed all the caterpillars before they could cocoon themselves. Then the chrysalises started to form!!!

One morning, my littlest blessing came down for breakfast and I eagerly announced that we had chrysalises on the top of each container. She looked at them with her groggy morning smile then asked me, “Who is going to get them from those little cups to the big butterfly house, Mom?” Um…I hadn’t thought of that. We’re all a little adverse to handling any kind of bug and this was the going to be the ultimate bug transfer; way outside of my comfortable box. This would have been JB’s job, he could handle it! But I took one for the team, took a few deep breaths and did what I needed to do. The transfer was done. Now we waited.

The timing of the butterfly release ended up happening on the birthday of our oldest girl. We released 10 Painted Lady butterflies and made wishes while each one found the cool spring wind, spread their wings and flew away. I’ve seen a few Painted Ladies fluttering around in our backyard since then…..always wondering, is that one of our babies and greeting them with salutations filled with gratitude.

Butterflies!! They are symbols of change, new beginnings, hope, life!! “Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life. There is no doubt the butterfly has significant meanings to us. Through heartfelt stories, we have heard butterflies symbolizing the passing of a loved one, or life struggles that people have endured to emerge as a better person.” (link)

As we released these beautiful creatures who started out not so “beautiful”, we reflected on our own lives. We saw the beauty in all of God’s creatures, especially the transformation from such an ugly and heartbreaking time into a beautiful bond and strength between us that has grown over the past 540 days. The new bond we have as a small little crew has been so much more than we could have ever expected. Butterflies!!

Here’s a funny story about grilled cheese samiches!!

This sweet story comes from one of Lizzie’s (our newly 15 yo) pre-school teachers.

“I sent you some snacks for the kids. In the gift package you will find bread, sliced cheese, and butter. This may seem really weird and I hope you and the kids don't have any allergies to dairy (we don't!!).... but my fondest memories of John were obviously at the daycare where he would joke and brighten our days when we were so busy with kiddos. He would come in and be apart of the class with us, talk to us, and stay longer when picking up the kiddos. My favorite memory is when it was grilled cheese day at the school. He knew it was our favorite and we joked with him about how we would ask the kitchen for extra because the kids would eat so much...but really it was for us teachers. It was delicious simple white bread, Kraft singles, that was barely toasted but we would eat so many of them!!!! We would get so many left over that one time he saw we had extra and we shared some with him. We were always joking and laughing with John and he made our work days with the kiddos so much brighter when he would come pick up the kids. So... when he passed, I wanted to send this to you but couldn't figure it out and then thought maybe it was silly or weird, but I just went for it today. Thinking about him and y'all. All my love!”

A beautiful grilled cheese sandwich is made with a few simple staples of the kitchen. While separate, the ingredients are boring and not so appealing. I mean, who eats butter alone?? But when put together, they are so amazing!!

The ingredients of life can be the same as the ingredients of the grilled cheese when separated, but when brought together, they make the best life we could ask for. Although we are "alone and separated" during this time of sequester, we are truly not ever alone. And when we are able to come back together, the ingredients of our lives will be even more beautiful than before!!

So eat up those amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and never forget the basic ingredients that make them the best of the best!!

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