My friend Tom knows how much I love and adore monarch caterpillars so when he offered me a few to bring home I was beyond grateful.
You see his beautiful wife Wilma introduced me to the miracles of the Monarch many years ago. It was one of the many gifts she gave while she walked this planet. When Wilma passed back in March of 2013 I was writing another blog at the time and I wrote this letter to her.
Dear Wilma (Written March 2, 2013)
She carefully tagged monarch butterflies before she set them free. She planted beautiful gardens, ran marathons, and loved birds. She is an amazing mother and a great friend. She is my friend and because of her life mine is richer.
About twelve and a half years ago I became Miss I’s mommy, and on that day someone else wonderful walked into my life, my friend Wilma. She was wearing a t-shirt with a map of China that stated my baby is here! There was a big arrow pointing to Hunan province (that she made, of course). We soon discovered our luggage was missing, as we frantically searched the airport together little did I know someone special had arrived in my life.
We were part of a beautiful group of people and shared one of the most miraculous moments in our lives, becoming parents. Our group traveled to China together and at the end of the two weeks, we bid each other farewell. At the time Wilma and I lived in two different provinces and I thought our friendship would exist of card and picture exchanges once in a while.
In less than a year we had moved and Wilma, her husband, and Madi were arriving at our new home so we could reunite the girls. On that day I was excited that Miss I and Madi would be able to develop a special friendship. I knew Miss I would develop many wonderful friendships in her life, but no one would understand her life the way that Madi would.
In the early years, before the girls started school we had many play dates.
As the girls played and giggled, we happily settled down with cups of tea and lost ourselves in deep conversation. When the girls started full-day school our playdates became less frequent, but whenever we got together we picked up right where we left off. Our friendship was deep. It was a friendship brought together by our girls but developed its own roots and its own love.
Early in our friendship Wilma discovered she had breast cancer. Wilma’s strength through this disease inspired me to live more fully in my own life. Wilma’s cancer went into remission and she was healthy for years.
Last year it came back.
On a hot summer day in August, I was outside sitting on my swing when Wilma walked through our patio door. She came to ask me to pray for her. She only intended to stay a few minutes but we sat there drinking water and well over an hour passed. We talked about miracles and faith. We talked about God and our daughters. She talked about what was happening to her body and her belief that she could make a miracle happen. I believed with all my heart that a miracle could happen, but I put trust in God’s plan.
As a family, we pray for Wilma every night at dinner. We hold hands, say grace and then ask God to take care of her. I know He is. Maybe not in the way we wished for on that hot August day, but He is taking care of her in His way.
Her beautiful sister-in-law started a prayer circle once a month, and love and prayers drifted through the universe for my sweet friend. Yesterday I learned that Wilma is transitioning from her body. It shook me to my core. My friend, my dear sweet friend is leaving. As I sit here this morning with an ache deep in my heart I bid her farewell. I want her to know how much I love her and what an inspiration she is to me. The world is better because you were here.
Every time I see a monarch I will think of you. As you slowly move from life’s cocoon I know that you will transition into the most beautiful butterfly. Fly safely, my friend. Thanks for sharing your life with me.
All my love! Michelle
Just hours after I wrote this email I received news that Wilma, my dear friend, had died. As my heart is overflowing with sadness I sit here wrapped in gratitude for every moment we got to share.
four years later
Over four years have passed since I wrote that letter to my friend. In that time I’ve watched Tom and Madi blossom as a family of two and I feel Wilma continuing to touch all our lives. She was a gift to the world and we are all better for knowing her.
I am so grateful for you Wilma and I know you are still helping to guide me in my life. As I watch the caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies they will serve as a reminder of all the gifts you brought to me and all the gifts that live inside me waiting for their chance to grow wings and fly.
Thank you, my friend!