"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
Photo credit: NBC News
This is my entry for SunWriteFun! This contest requires a nonfiction or informational fiction story based on a theme of discover, exploration, or adventure. Word limit is 200. It's also posted on the contest website here. I discovered this story last year and wrote it hoping to enter it in 50 Precious Words, but it was too complex to make it clear in 50, so I set it aside, and rewrote it a bit. After more revision and help from CPs, this seemed like the perfect fit. It was a fascinating discovery for me and I'm thrilled to share another of nature's mysterious and amazing cycles.
Photo credit: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/turtle-tears-butterflies
Tonnye Williams Fletcher
where the Tambopata River flows,
an amazing discovery lingers. . .
Dark, rainy skies
lack the salt that Butterfly needs.
The rains have traveled far,
losing minerals along the way.
A brilliant sunrise
explodes in the rainforest.
Pink, purple, and orange fireworks
arch across the morning skies,
hints of color peeking through the canopy.
Bright sunlight is just what Turtle needs
to warm his cold blood.
basking on logs and rocks,
resting on the banks,
napping in patches of yellow sun,
soaking up the warmth,
shedding excess sodium –
leaky tears wash away the salt,
a gift for Butterfly who needs the minerals
Turtle’s tears; He drinks --
proboscis extended, sipping salty sorrow
with its spiraled straw
Butterfly flies --
fluttering off to the weeds -
mineralized, fulfilled, sated.
ready to fly another day.
the need of butterflies, as
Butterfly kisses turtle’s tears.
Photo credit: https://www.brut.media/us/nature/what-are-these-butterflies-doing-to-this-turtle--2e40a142-0bb1-4c0a-bb83-4ea101f41b47
This post is personal -- and faith-molded, so consider yourself forewarned ;-). This is an interesting time of year for me. Yes, it's the beginning of school and that always brings reflection. What has worked well? What do I wish to change? What new strategies/activities will I implement? What will I keep? As a teacher, August is a heavily reflective month.
It's also the time when Facebook Memories assail. I find this feature on FB to be bittersweet -- photos when I was much thinner, special memories along the way, things I'd rather forget, yummy food, "why did I post that?" questions. . . .But August is pretty tough where FB memories are concerned, like yesterday:
For those of you who may not know me that well, I don't have any children -- not here with me on Earth. I have 4 very teeny tiny babies, who, I find comfort in believing are waiting on me in Heaven. (And just as an aside, for those of you who believe life doesn't start at conception, I would urge you just to consider that some of us take great comfort in believing differently -- and while I'm not asking you to change your opinion, I would humbly ask that you be sensitive to the fact that some of us have really good reasons to believe differently. . . .)
Summer, eleven years ago, I was pregnant -- for the first time. It was a very hard-won miracle. It was more than I can even put into words. The hope, the dreams, the fulfillment of so much, but what should have been the beginning soon became an ending. The hopes dashed, the dreams shattered. Beginnings, stomped into the oblivion of NOT. When I awoke from surgery, it was to a kind nurse wiping away the tears I cried even through the anesthesia. I was only 8 and a half weeks along, but the devastation of losing our little sweet pea was larger than life. When I say it was hard, that is such an understatement that doesn't even hint at the life-changing grief, enhanced by well-meaning people who had well-meaning things to say that instead cut to the quick of my very soul. I was 44 years old, with not much time left to play the mom card, so we began trying again pretty quickly, which resulted in another pregnancy, and ended in another surgery and no baby in my arms. February -- right between Valentine's Day and my birthday. I felt like there was absolutely nothing to celebrate. The window was closing with every birthday, and we had tasted hope, so we were determined. August (just one year later) brought a third pregnancy --twins -- and ended in a third surgery, and an empty house. Putting all of this into a paragraph doesn't minimize the grief. I can call it back in a second and feel every feeling. I have forgotten so many of the details, but I will never forget the feelings.
I will not lie and tell you that I did not question God during this time. He and I had many, many hard discussions. I melted at His feet in anguish and yelled at Him in anger. I had so many questions. I had so. much. anger. Nothing about this felt fair. And, it wasn't. It still isn't. Not fair that infants are abandoned, abused, and taken for granted. Not fair that we have a big house with plenty of room for children that sits empty when so many have no home to call their own -- living on the streets or without food and water.
This is where some of my friends will say, "Oh, you should have adopted!" And where I tell you, "We tried." Money was super tight and we had not always managed it well. Our house is old and would not meet the codes that they use to determine if you will be good parents by whether your electricity is up to code and your house is insured . . . .who checks all the millions of homes that children are BORN into? And yet, I understand the guidelines are there to keep children safe. Adoption was not an option for us. We didn't get very far in the process before we realized it was a moot point.
Grief and anger and hopelessness became my best friends. I put on happy faces, but I was drowning in sorrow. I struggled with why God didn't answer OUR prayers. We served Him, believed Him, worshiped Him. I struggled with so much, but He never turned his back on me. He held me when my husband wasn't home because he was working on his doctorate. He caught every tear -- and there were so many. He didn't hurl my questions back at me. He just let me yell and cry and feel the feels. He quietly woke me up every morning and nudged me to put my feet on the floor when I didn't want to, didn't feel like it. He provided a family that loved me (but didn't know how to talk to me about this), a husband who loved me (but was totally wrapped up in his own requirements and didn't fully grieve until much later.) He had placed me in an amazing church family who held my hands and brought me apple pies and milkshakes and starry glasses and gifts for my birthday when I absolutely didn't feel like celebrating.
I know some of my friends who don't choose Faith will blame God, but God was my constant source during that time. I choose faith. I believe with all my heart He is God, creator and sustainer. He is all powerful and could have miraculously given us a different ending, but He is also all-knowing, and for reasons He understands (and I still don't) He chose not to intervene to change our destiny. He did not withhold anything from me, nor take anything away. I believe we live in an imperfect world, made more imperfect by how we live and what we do. That imperfection is what kept me from being a mom. My body often fights against what I want. That's not God. That's genetics. My age meant that my eggs were losing their viability. That's not God. That's time. God didn't push a button and "take" my babies from me. He simply let nature take it's natural course. Genetics, hormones, time, age. . . What He did do is help me keep putting one foot in front of another. He gave me everything I needed to walk back into joy and fulfillment -- without babies.
Are there still moments of grief and sorrow? You betcha! In the last 11 years, we have lost not only 3 pregnancies/4 babies, but also Shane's grandmother, his dad, my mom, some friends, a bunch of aunts and uncles, a few cousins, and 2 churches. Every loss teaches me something about myself. Sometimes it is something I need to fix, but often it is simply something I need to understand. It has been a long season of loss, but also a long season of learning to be grateful and realizing how blessed we are.
How blessed are we? We have a quirky, old home that we love. We have each other -- celebrated 33 years of friendship and marriage in July. We have family that we love and that love us. We have careers that we enjoy and are good at that bring us much joy. We have had, and continue to cultivate amazing friendships and spiritual relationships. We have a strong faith that we draw from in hard times. We have everything we need and more.
The bottom line is this: Some days are hard, and some are harder than hard. Some memories are blessings, and some are tough to relive. But every hard day -- every rejection, every loss has made me stronger and more ready for whatever else was to come. If you allow it, the hard times may break you a bit, but God can fix the brokenness and make you whole again. And the moments that break you also give you opportunities to love people, understand them, and care for them. I'm so thankful that God loves me and continues walking with me and allows me to continue walking with Him. And I believe with all my heart that all the tears, all the hardship, and all the loss will fade away on the day when I meet Him face-face, with my mom walking by His side, and I get to meet my babies for the first time. It won't be sadness that I feel. It will be joy and it will be gratitude, so I'm trying to practice for that day.
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
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