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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)

TITLE: The Dance of the Butterfly
By Jen Davis


In my life there have been many great moments which I have captured like snapshots that reside in my heart. The day my daughter was married was certainly one of them. For months I had prepared for that day, and yet nothing had prepared me for that moment. Of the many great moments that day, there was one, after the ceremony, that those of us who witnessed would not soon forget.

When my daughter and I first discovered the wedding location, we were instantly awed by the modest estate made especially beautiful by the surrounding landscape. But it was the gazebo overlooking a garden that we immediately knew would be the perfect setting for a garden wedding. Looking at one another, we nodded in agreement as my daughter declared, “This is it, Mom!”

The evening of the wedding, countless details from months of planning were all coming together. Something was missing, but it wasn’t anything we had forgotten. Rather it was family members who were not there, those who had passed away, especially my mother and grandmother. In memory of them we had considered releasing butterflies at the close of the ceremony, but choose instead other ways to honor them.

After the ceremony, the photographer gathered the wedding party and the immediate family to take photos inside the gazebo. After numerous photos of the bride and groom, one-by-one he arranged the various groups.

When it was time for my daughter and I to have our picture taken, we stood together inside the gazebo. Enjoying these few minutes alone with my daughter, we posed before the camera. Just as we were finishing, a huge Monarch butterfly suddenly flew inside the gazebo and began fluttering all around us.

I assumed that at any moment it would fly away, but it didn’t. Instead, this beautiful butterfly continued to circle around us, occasionally dipping closer, turning and twirling back around again. My daughter and I stood motionless except for our heads which swayed in sync with the whimsical movements of the butterfly.

“Take a picture!” Someone called out, but I could already hear the sound of cameras flashing.

Others began to take notice and soon there was a small crowd standing outside the gazebo watching the butterfly flutter around the two of us. For how long, I couldn’t say; I had lost the concept of time. Only the flap of the butterfly’s wings held any indication of time passing. After what seemed like forever, the butterfly flew away.

“Did you get a picture of the butterfly?” I asked the photographer, somewhat short of breath from my heart beating quickly.

“Yes, I got it,” he replied.

“I got one too!” A good friend of mine had been following the photographer around taking pictures after the wedding. “That was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It seemed to be dancing around the two of you.”

It was a great moment.

Stepping out of the gazebo, my daughter and I chatted with others as we continued to relish in our experience. Those who had taken pictures promised to send photos once they were developed. As the groom and his family were having their pictures taken, I noticed the photographer followed the same order as he had with the bride’s family: the groom with both parents, the groom with his father, the groom with his mother, and finally the groom with his…grandparents.


“Oh, my goodness!” My words escaped before I knew I had spoken.

“What?” My daughter looked at me expectantly.

“I just realized something. You remember that we considered releasing butterflies in memory of your grandmothers?”

She nodded, “Yes.”

“Had they been here today, they would have joined you and I for pictures at the same moment that the butterfly flew into the gazebo.”

A glimmer of light reflected in her eyes and a smile grew from her understanding.

“It seems that we got our butterfly after all.”

* * * * * * *

The memory of my daughter and me in the gazebo with the butterfly flying all around us is another very special snapshot that will always reside in my heart. It was truly a great moment, but not one that I will have as a keepsake like the hundreds of other photos from that day. Because of all the pictures that were taken during that very special moment, not one captured the dance of the butterfly.

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This article has been read 959 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann FitzHenry07/13/06
Oooo! I love this story! What a wonderful moment. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Marilyn Schnepp 07/14/06
Aside from a beautiful story, it becomes a mystery to me. "Why", I think to myself, "didn't the Dance of the Butterfly show up in the photo's?" Very interesting...and well written.
Cheryl Beckwith07/14/06
I enjoyed this.What a special moment and day.
terri tiffany07/16/06
Beautiful story (having just gone through a wedding with my own daughter. I noticed choose should be chose. There were a few sentences I might delete as they didn't move the story along but I must say you captured a wonderful moment in time!! Lovely!!
Steve Uppendahl07/17/06
Very cool story. I assume it's true, which would make it all the better.

I think the butterfly not being in the picture brings the meaning out more. Certain things are not meant to be photographed, they are there for a separate and more important meaning, as your writing spells out. Thanks for sharing this with us.

A typo or two (choose--as pointed out) detract just a bit.

But still a great story.

Rita Garcia07/17/06
Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment in time!
Brenda Craig07/17/06
A very sweet and beautiful story. I enjoyed it very much. Brenda
Jan Ackerson 07/17/06
As a mother planning a wedding, I loved this up until the epilog--and then I REALLY loved it!

I'm glad you decided not to release butterflies--my daughter went to a wedding where they did that, and they were all dead or stunned. The pavement was littered with butterfly bodies...not a great beginning for a wedding, and kind of freaky.
Trina Courtenay07/17/06
How beautiful! thanks for sharing.
Linda Watson Owen07/17/06
Yes, as another mother preparing for a daughter's wedding, this especially gripped my heart. You told it so warmly! What a wonderful memory! And the epilogue was perfect! Many lovely things in life cannot be captured and held by a photo frame.
Donna Haug07/17/06
I love butterflies - one of FEW insects I would consider letting land on me. Sounded beautiful!
william price07/17/06
You're right jen, nothing ordinary here. Excellent job.
Philip Barnes07/18/06
Great story, you share a true tale in such a compelling way. Thank you for inviting all of us to spend a moment at the weddng. It felt special to us as well.
Jan Ross07/19/06
Very heart-warming. Aside from the typos already mentioned, this is a beautiful piece -- so visual! "Great" job! :)
Tim Pickl02/21/08
This is a wonderful, heartfelt story....it reads like a movie!