A Butterfly’s Beauty Comes After a Period of Darkness
About a decade ago, I woke to the sight of dozens of butterflies bathed in gentle light above my head. I wasn’t expecting that.
When I lost consciousness, my mom and I had just arrived at the hospital in an ambulance after being rescued from our home by a team of firefighters and other first responders during a massive snowstorm. They dug through several feet of snow so paramedics could get to me.
It wouldn’t have surprised me to see doctors and nurses when I woke up, but instead, the first thing I saw was butterflies. My mind jumped to what seemed like the only explanation for the beautiful creatures and their accompanying light: I was dead.
As it turned out, I was still alive, though there would be many times in the weeks to come when my life would come very close to ending. My heart would even stop beating more than once in a single day.
But on this day, I just happened to be staring at a peaceful light panel with butterflies painted on it.
It feels rather fitting that I was placed in the butterfly room once I was moved out of the emergency room. Butterflies have been special to me since I was a kid. My love for them is obvious in everything from my fashion choices to my room decor. A friend even used to call me butterfly.
I’m drawn not only to their elegant beauty but also to the journey they must undertake to grow those beautiful wings.
Every butterfly begins as a caterpillar, and their transformation takes place once they enclose themself in a chrysalis. Inside their temporary home, the caterpillar falls apart, dissolving into goo. It sounds strange, difficult, and a little bit gross. I wonder if the caterpillar is frightened by this part of metamorphosis, or if they anticipate what comes next.
After its body is slowly stitched back together in its new form, the butterfly breaks out of the chrysalis, rests for a while, stretches its wings, and flies. It soars through the sky with grace and displays those beautiful wings for the world to see.
Like many insects, the butterfly has carried much symbolism throughout history. It has become a symbol of hope, transformation, beauty, and new beginnings. That’s why I connect to butterflies. Their lives, in many ways, reflect ours.
In times of darkness and hardship, we can seek hope, be transformed into something beautiful amid our circumstances, and start fresh with our newfound wings. Getting to that point might not always be pleasant or easy, but we can emerge from it.
When I was hospitalized, I often didn’t know what the next day — or even the next hour — would bring. Sometimes I didn’t even know whether it was day or night.
My body responded to infections in strange ways. Those weeks were extremely difficult and sometimes scary. And with the amount of bloody mucus coming out of my body, it was usually a little bit gross.
It’s not unlike the sticky remnants of a butterfly’s former life that cling to its wings when it first hatches. People frequently mistake the coating as blood from a fresh wound when they see a butterfly drying in the sun before it takes flight.
Thankfully, the light of the love and answered prayers from so many people outshined much of the darkness, but the hospital walls did become like my own chrysalis. Within them, I started growing into a different person, and not for the first or last time.
After being stitched back together by my doctors and divinely woven back together by my loving God, I finally broke free from my hospital chrysalis and spent substantial time resting and recovering from my fight until I was ready to fly.
I would never again be the girl I was before I got sick, but that wasn’t bad. It took time to realize, but this unfamiliar new beginning was beautiful. And I was beautiful, too.
Throughout the many changes of my life, I’ve become stronger, softer, wiser, and so much more. Through every hardship, my wings eventually become more vibrantly colored, and I fly with joy and pride for who I’ve become and anticipation of who I will become next.
My dear reader, if you’re experiencing a period of darkness, or your life feels like it’s falling apart right now, please don’t lose hope. You can find light again. You can be like a butterfly. You are and will be beautiful, and this change can be a good thing.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.