Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Butterflies released in a beautiful dance across the sky to honor your deceased family member or friend?
|The Plaque Wall – we thought only family members |
of the deceased whose name appeared on this wall
would attend the Butterfly Release Ceremony.
But actually anybody who had a loved one
in the entire cemetery was invited to attend.
When my mother invited some of my family members to a butterfly release event to celebrate my father, who had passed away this past March, I envisioned a group of people gathering together to hear a few loving words about each participant’s family members, and then we would release our beautiful butterflies into the air and watch them fill the sky with color. I brought my camera along to take photos of the event.
The temperature, combined with the humidity, made the event uncomfortable and hundreds of people were sprawled out on chairs or standing in the hot sun or under a canopy waiting for the event to begin. Earlier somebody had passed out makeshift envelopes that held our captive butterflies.
One of my nephews holds our family's envelopes
with the butterflies we waited so long to release.
Next to him stands one of my sisters.
In front of him stands one of my daughters.
Behind her is my mother under the canopy.
The speaker spoke not one word about anybody other than his own family members. And he spoke on and on and on and on and he prayed on and on and on and on – about his relatives.
And then his brother began playing music to honor their mother, and then a woman read to all the children at the event a book, written by their mother, and then they played more music devoted to their mother, while in between all of these events the speaker talked on and on and on and on about his mother, his father, his grandfather, and his uncle – I think – I kind of lost focus after the first 20 minutes, and prayed on and on and on and on, and I wondered about the poor butterflies that had been stuck inside envelopes in the sweltering heat for such a long time.
So while the rest of us were there for our own family members, though not one word of respect was spoken to honor them, we listened to this family drone on and on about their own loved ones and wondered if perhaps they thought the entire ceremony was about only them.
When the speaker finally came to the end of the ceremony, he spoke these words before we released our jailed butterflies: “Hopefully not too many of them will get trampled.”
Those words should have clued us all in to what was to follow, because as soon as we “released” our butterflies from their cages, the poor lethargic things dropped to the ground and we had to coax them to fly.
|Finding them was difficult, but if you look above and to the right |
of the shadow located on the lower left of the photo, you can see it.
|Notice people searching the ground for their butterflies.|
As you can see by the photos, no grand fill-the-sky images existed. In one photo you can see people bent over searching for the butterflies they released. Hundreds of butterflies had to find enough energy to get up off the ground before hundreds of feet trampled them to death after their excruciating captivity.
Out of the hundreds of butterflies released that day, I saw only about 5 butterflies flying above ground. What a disappointment! Sorry, Dad. And sorry, butterflies.