For her birthday, Mem and Gramp bought her some caterpillars. We watched them eat and grow and eventually become butterflies.
After a couple of days of feeding them and watching them, it was time to let them go. Ella was excited.
And then she realized they were not coming back.
She got to hold just one of them before it fluttered away. This one had a wing that did not unfold properly. So we held it for a few moments, and then set it gently on the daisies.
We watched it for a few minutes more.
I suppose she was hoping that I would change my mind about keeping the precious thing.
Sometimes, we want something so badly, but it isn’t what’s best. Sometimes we have to do something we don’t want to do, because it’s what is best for someone else.
She nodded her head in agreement. It is a hard lesson to learn.
I know it hurt her soft little heart to let it go because as she stood up, her chin quivered and her voice broke as she asked why we couldn’t keep just this one.
They don’t live very long at all. Yes, we could keep this one in it’s small habitat. We could say that it’s just a butterfly. Or we could give it it’s freedom. And for a few short weeks, her butterfly could float on the breeze and dance on flowertops and hide from summer storms. It could spread it’s wings to the warmth of the sun, and grace us with it’s beauty as it flutters past us.
And one day, as she sees a butterfly flutter past her, she will watch it, and wonder if it was once hers.
It is a hard lesson, but with it comes a beautiful gift that makes the heart sing.