My last really sweet Hospice memory of Hannah, before she became very weak, was of her walking around the kitchen, probably making eggs or something. I could see that things were changing. I asked her if she would give me a kiss. I leaned down and she kissed my cheek. I can still feel the warmth of her breath from that brief moment. We have had multiple butterfly events take place since our dear Hannah went to be with the Lord. While as of the time of this writing, we are less than three years from her departure, God is still sending us signs of assurance that she is ok. I wonder why, on one hand, we did not receive a full healing of Hannah’s ailments on this side of the Great Veil.
I have questioned why she had to suffer so much. Countless people for so many years prayed and even fasted for Hannah, yet she left us at the tender age of 18. People from virtually every Christian denomination, including many who fully believe in the gift of healing for today, prayed fervently for Hannah. Many of them had faith that she would be healed. Of course, we did see some healing miracles take place, like the disappearance of a massive calcified blood clot and the healing of stage D (the most severe category) congestive heart failure. These miracles gave us more time with her and gave her better quality time with us. However, the Lord chose not to provide full healing for Hannah in this lifetime. Instead, He gave us signs of His love and promises of new life. Regardless of how many signs we have been given, we should not need them. God has promised in His holy Word that the redeemed in Christ will have eternal life in a place without sickness. We are promised new bodies someday. Her intermediate state now is one of peace. Paul was able to glimpse this state and said that he would rather be in that state and with the Lord than in his current body (2 Cor. 5:1-8, 2 Cor. 12:1-4). My faith in the Bible should be enough, yet we humans are frail and our faith is easily rocked when something so magnanimous as losing a child after nearly two decades of suffering occurs. My faith wavers at times. I admit it. Sometimes it is difficult for those of us with analytical minds, loads of theological training, and a good dose of fundamentalist upbringing, to just rest in God’s promises. Sometimes I take Paul’s exhortation “examine yourselves” to the extreme and doubt simple truths. Instead of coming to the Lord as a little child, sometimes I pour over the Scriptures, reading and rereading the same passages, looking for something I might have missed. I still deal with anxiety. Perhaps that is just the way I am wired. I often think that the 18 plus years of being on high alert re-wired my brain. The collective stress that years of ER visits, ICU stays, pumps beeping in the night, fruitless medical tests, and much more took a toll on my body and mind. It is difficult to settle down, but through prayer and reading I am able to eventually find rest at night. I suppose that God, in perfect love, wisdom, and tender mercies, chose to give this complicated man a few signs here and there to put him in his place—to force him to pause and be humble, so that he can embrace the love of God as a child. I hope that readers who have suffered great loss can be encouraged by these stories without being plagued by questions about why they have not received similar signs. God gives us what we need. In our case, we continue to receive gifts from eternity to encourage us. I will share two: Home of Hope
When Hannah was in the hospital in 2015, she nearly died. A friend started a prayer group on Facebook that quickly gained thousands of followers and prayer warriors from around the world. In fact, it grew so quickly, we had to make it a private group because more than one person had joined that had ulterior motives. One of the most touching members was an Indian pastor, who along with his wife, oversees a mission in rural India that houses several dozen orphans and widows. These dear folks who have never known anything but poverty began to pray and fast on Hannah’s behalf. We were deeply moved by this act of charity and sacrifice of our dear brothers and sisters from the other side of the world.
After the miracles of 2015 we saw in Hannah’s life, we kept in touch with our Indian friends. One year for Christmas, we sent the children clothing, toys, and school supplies. After Hannah’s passing in 2020, their leader, Moses, reached out to us and said he had a dream to build a playground in Hannah’s memory. For Hannah’s celebration of life event (held a year after her passing because of covid restrictions), we raised a nice amount of money to send to help establish the playground. The name of the orphanage is Home of Hope. The playground will be called “Hannah’s Hope.” I, along with two of Hannah’s friends, opened an account at a local bank in which to house our funds for Hannah’s Hope. We chose a bank and branch where none of us had personal accounts or connections, just to keep things simple and above reproach. It was a small branch in a busy shopping area. I had never been in the building. I went in and described what we wanted to do to a teller and she instructed me to wait in a sitting area until one of their relationship bankers could help. A smiling lady named “April” came out to greet us and took us back to her roomy office. While I was describing our agenda, I noticed an ornamental blue butterfly on her desk. I looked around the room and saw several blue butterflies decorating bookshelves and other areas. I asked April why she collected these, and she just said, “I have always loved butterflies, especially blue ones. I even have a blue butterfly tattoo.” Normally this sort of thing would make a person’s jaw drop, but I simply smiled and began to tell her our butterfly story. I was not surprised. It was just one more kiss from heaven. Of all the bankers in all the branches in our area that we could have chosen, we ended up in a bank with April--who loved blue butterflies enough to embellish her office (and part of her body) with these beautiful creatures.
Not only did I take this as a sign of encouragement, but I also saw this as God’s blessing on our efforts to raise money for the orphanage.
Two years after Hannah’s departure, I took Kellie to Outback for a simple meal for our wedding anniversary. I had ordered jewelry for her—it was a necklace with a butterfly pendant and matching earrings. It was Bulgarian crystal set in sterling silver. It wasn’t unusually fancy or expensive, but I knew that it would be a special gift for Kellie. Up to this time, I had never bought her butterfly-themed jewelry. Normally, when I give Kellie a special gift at a meal, I wait until later on, but this time I chose to do it shortly after we were seated. She opened the pendant first, and while looking at it, her eyes moistened and grew large. She said, “This looks just like the butterflies on the bracelet that Hannah got for me.” A parenthetical thought is in order here. While Hannah was undergoing Hospice care, she chose to spend some of her money she had in her checking account. She often enjoyed ordering things online and giving them as gifts to people. The time of Hannah’s passing was about three weeks after Mother’s Day, at which point her condition had deteriorated to the point of not really knowing what day was what. A couple of months after Hannah passed, Kellie found a gift in Hannah’s room. In a little box, was a bracelet of sterling silver adorned with two butterflies—one larger purple one, and a smaller blue one. The intent was obvious. Hannah knew that she would soon cross over. She had been told she was the butterfly girl since we first started seeing signs in 2008. The two little insects nestled together symbolized how close Hannah and Kellie had become at that time. It was beautifully cut crystal, without a doubt, the same exact cut as the butterflies on the jewelry I was giving to Kellie. I had no recollection of the bracelet or what it looked like. I suppose in my grief, I had forgotten. Whatever the case, when I ordered these gifts for Kellie, I just thought they were elegant little reminders that she would cherish.
While Kellie was describing the bracelet to me, I was deep in thought. My contemplation was interrupted when our server walked up and said, “Hello, my name is ‘Hannah.’ May I get you something to drink?” As I turned toward her in surprise and my eyes went up from the table to see her face, I noticed a butterfly tattoo on her arm.
Of all the servers in all the restaurants in our town, we were seated at the table of a butterfly tattooed server named Hannah on the night I gave Kellie jewelry—with butterflies that perfectly matched what our Hannah had ordered for her mother while being cared for at home by Hospice.
I suppose there may be those who can read this and not be moved by the supernatural love and tenderness of God. Perhaps your pain is too severe. You may even think that these stories are not true or exaggerated. I understand. I can be very skeptical of stories people tell as well. All I can say is that I love Hannah too much and my respect for all that is Holy is too profound to weave any fiction into this account. My compassion for those of you going through incomprehensible challenges is real; this is too personal for me to tinker with your emotions or to give you false hope. Even now, I wipe a tear from my cheek where once there was a kiss. Yet, I also sense joy and hope as I reflect on these kisses from heaven that serve as reminders of God’s love and the enduring love that I will always have for Hannah.