By Louetta Jensen
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
I was nothing less than devastated by the news that my beloved black Labrador, Lady, had a cancerous tumor in her lung, and was so enlarged it had literally pushed her heart to the other side of her chest. Fortunately, Lady didn't even look ill, and certainly failed to exhibit any outward signs of pain. The veterinarian explained that surgery was an option, we decided surgery was pointless and cruel and would not extend her life.
So, Lady was expected to live another three or four weeks.
It was decided that putting Lady on a high-protein diet of "people food" was the best choice under the circumstances. She loved scrambled eggs, baked turkey and chicken breasts, cheeses, and her favorite — prime rib cooked just to her liking. I snuck her a few pieces of pizza too.
I spent many long hours talking with my brother about Lady and the great joy she brought me over a decade. A month passed, then two, then three and four. Lady was holding her own and I treasured every single day she lived.
The veterinarian came to the house regularly to check on Lady. She was amazed at how well she appeared, and the remarkable fact she was clearly not declining.
Nevertheless, I continued to break down and my brother continued to comfort me. Another couple of months passed and soon we reached an unbelievable marker of ten months! Lady continued to feast on her high-protein foods and although her weight stayed the same, she exhibited absolutely no signs of discomfort. By Christmas, I wondered if the diagnosis had been a horrible mistake.
That was not to be the case. After the holidays, Lady suddenly lost weight at an accelerated rate, and I could no longer postpone a very important decision about euthanasia. I knew the day would come when I would be forced to call the veterinarian and ask her to come to the house to see Lady one final time. I agonized over that decision, and even worse was choosing "when" that exact day would be. I started losing my courage to make that final decision, and I discussed this at length with my dear brother. He suggested that I "talk" to Lady about the issue. I took his advice.
I sat on the floor with Lady, looked into those incredibly loving brown eyes, hugged her closely to me, and cried myself to sleep at her side — for two days and two nights. Yes, Lady gave me a sign that she was ready, an unmistakable body language message distinctly hers, and I made the dreaded call to the vet.
The inevitable day of Lady's passing was a serene moment in my life and one of a true blessing. I was so privileged to have had her love, and I held her as she took her last breath. The impression of her soul leaving her body and soaring to lofty heights nearly overtook me. I told her, "Run like the wind, my precious Lady, run like the wind!"
Strangely, I cried no more tears that day and again my brother offered words of comfort, acknowledging and honoring the profound love we share with our pets. He reassured me that one day I would have another dog. He reiterated this on many occasions.
Several years came and went, and there was no talk of getting another dog.
Another inevitable day presented itself; my dear brother was gravely ill and not expected to live. I was devastated. Nevertheless, my brother was upbeat and in total acceptance. He reassured me that once he had passed, he would somehow relay a message to me from the other side, or wherever he was destined to be. We decided on a password and he vowed to contact me.
Several weeks later, I asked my brother if he remembered what his message or password was; he laughed loudly and answered that he'd forgotten it too! He then suggested a new password, evidently a word chosen at random, and one that I felt had no significance for either of us. The password was "butterfly." I agreed to this and promised my brother I would remember his password and he vowed to do the same.
Although my brother passed away very soon after this conversation, I felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to say goodbye, and to thank him for his genuine sweetness, his love and all his words of comfort throughout my dark days. He winked at me and said, "Don't forget the password, Sis."
Several months later, my husband brought home an unexpected early birthday present for me, and something totally out of character. After parking his truck, I watched my husband walk along our sidewalk as he approached the house, and trailing behind him was a bouncing white and brown puppy with a long snout and impossibly large floppy ears. He was the cutest puppy in the world!
"Whatever possessed you to bring a puppy home?"
My husband smiled. "Just waiting for the right time, I guess."
"That's so... unlike you."
"True enough. I just felt a strong compulsion, and well, who could resist that face?"
I kissed and cuddled and played with my new puppy; my heart overjoyed. That evening I called a few friends to tell them of our new puppy. On one such call, I looked at my calendar as I spoke. I suddenly realized it would have been my brother's birthday and mentioned this to my friend on the phone.
"My brother would have been so happy for me to get this new puppy. I only wish he could have lived long enough to see him," I said.
"Have you picked out a name? What breed of dog is the new puppy?"
"Well, his name is Pappy, and he's a Toy Spaniel, a Papillon."
I stopped speaking, and I think I stopped breathing for a long moment as my mind raced back to the promise my brother had made before he died.
"Oh!" I said, as the realization hit. "Yes, he's a Papillon, which is the French word for butterfly!"
The long anticipated message from my brother finally came through loud and clear. Tears of joy covered my face and the small puppy licked them away. Butterfly... butterfly... butterfly!
This was a miraculous confirmation sent with love from my brother, and I do believe perhaps my precious Lady too.