Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: The Dance of the Butterfly
By Jen Davis
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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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