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The Butterfly Chronicles: Chapter 2 "Caterpillars and Butterflies"

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Pictured Above: Hannah holding an Atlantis Fritillary, July 2008

I did not know how to interpret my vision. The butterfly is a symbol of hope and life, patience and resurrection, transformation. After we lost Hannah, I did more research on the blue butterfly in particular. It turns out that blue butterflies have often been viewed as a symbol of love and luck (due to their rarity). Some cultures have associated the blue butterfly with sadness, calmness, or change.

What did this mean for Hannah? Was she going to be healed? Would we witness that transformation? A few days later, Hannah was on the front porch and picked a stem of small flowers from one of our stone pots. Shortly thereafter, an Atlantis Fritillary with a damaged wing landed on the flower in her hand. In delicate manner, it probed its proboscis into the shaft of one of the little purple flowers to drink sweet nectar. Hannah did not seem surprised, but she was fascinated. Hannah loved all of God's creatures and they all returned that affection. Kellie took pictures with her phone. I felt that this moment was also significant; perhaps it was another sign.

Hannah’s little brother came out to look. He wanted in on the action, but he scared the butterfly away. I instructed Luke to give Hannah more space and it flittered back and landed on the flower for a second helping of nectar. We took more pictures. I asked Hannah if I could try. With as gentle a motion as I could employ, I took the flower and the butterfly skirted away. I handed the flower back to Hannah and it returned again.

Hannah’s condition could change more quickly than West Virginia weather. She had a rare intestinal disorder. The motility in Hannah's bowels was almost non-existent. The nerves in Hannah's bowels were like separate musicians warming up in the orchestra before a concert. A lot was happening, but the nerves in the smooth muscle of her bowels were never in sync with each other. Without going into too much detail, I will just say that the concert never started for her. Hannah would go days and even weeks without a bowel movement back then. It was painful. It stunted her growth. At this point in her life, she had already had a couple of surgeries on her bowels as well as multiple PICC lines and central lines to provide her supplemental nutrition.

Hannah never knew a life without the pain or inconvenience of medical intervention. Every day of her life involved medical drama. We had a scheduled appointment at the Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest in early August. Hannah had been having a decent summer, by her standards, until about a week before her appointment. Her bowels were obstructed once again. The first few days were ok, but the result was becoming a familiar pattern. Her nutrition would suffer. There was just nowhere for food to go. Hannah also had a fast metabolism, so her limbs would get really skinny, almost overnight.

When we arrived for her appointment, we knew that we would be there for a while. I figured that we would need another central line. This time, instead of the short-term PICC line, we would get a long-term “permanent” central line. This involved a catheter that went straight to her heart to provide complete nutrition. This would be with her the rest of her life.

We arrived for her appointment and requested a room. They put her on the 8th floor in a room that had a little brownish caterpillar munching on leaves carved into the wall beside her door. It was about a three to four week stay as I recall. She received cards from her 3rd grade class at school. Her teacher and her class made cards with pipe cleaners crafted into the shapes of butterflies glued to the front. She received several cards from church members at United Methodist Temple in Beckley. Every card had a butterfly on the front. One lady even sent a 14K gold butterfly pendant. None of them had consulted with each other and none of them knew about my vision.

We were there for about three weeks. Looking back, I am thankful that things always worked out for Kellie and I to both be there for every hospitalization. She was still in bad shape when we were discharged, but she had the central line and things were set up at home so that she could receive long term parental nutrition. Perhaps things were about to change for the better. If only...

Pictured above: Hannah with her butterfly. July 2008.

1 Comment

Delores Ann Vaughan
Delores Ann Vaughan
Apr 29, 2021

These stories that you both are sharing are precious and yet they also make me want to cry. She was such a sweet child and I am thankful that Mike and I got to watch her grow and change through the years living next door. Even to this day when I am at the house I look over there and I can see her in my mind in the yard with the dogs. I miss you Miss Hannah.

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