44: The Dragonfly

44: The Dragonfly

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

The Dragonfly

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

~Robert Ingersol

I swatted at what I thought was a fly, but it flitted away and landed gently next to my right hand. I sat on the railing of the wooden bridge where Henry and I were passing the time this comfortable August morning. The sun beat down on my face, but a nearby tree protected four-year-old Henry’s fair skin and blond hair from the rays. At his age, he had little patience for things that did not fascinate him, but between digging for worms and this new activity of throwing rocks off the bridge into the waterfall, he was thoroughly content. If lunchtime didn’t come, he’d probably continue this all day. But at that moment, all I could focus on was the glittering dragonfly. Even when my eyes returned to the giggly boy, I couldn’t help but notice that the dragonfly did not leave.

The rest of that Thursday continued as a normal afternoon would between two babysitting jobs and an evening relaxing with my parents. In just a few weeks, I’d be returning to Syracuse University for my senior year. I had started turning my phone off when I went to bed, because I still battled sleeping issues since my former boyfriend passed away eleven months before. I had just begun to feel like my old self again, but that changed when I woke up the following morning.

My alarm rang for my 6:30 a.m. spin class, but as soon as I shut it off, my phone continued to buzz and chirp. Multiple voice mails, too many missed calls to count, and an unusual number of text messages lit up the screen. One text caught my eye because it came from someone I hadn’t spoken with in a while. When I opened it, I immediately regretted my choice:

“I’m sure you already know this, but Hannah Smith died in a car accident last night.”

Tears filled my eyes, and I bolted from my bed to my parents’ bedroom. All I could do was sob. I didn’t understand. Why Hannah? Why was I going through this again?

My mom explained that my best friend had found out last night and called the house, but they chose not to wake me up because they knew it would be a while before I slept again. But as soon as she finished, something in me hardened. I stopped crying and said, “I’m going to spin class. I’ve been through this before; I can do it again.”

So I went about my day. After spin class, I got ready to spend my morning with Henry again. I would have cancelled, but spending time with him would put me in better spirits. He wanted to go back to the bridge to play, and it wasn’t until I had settled on my same perch that a shimmer caught my eye. I followed it down to my right hand, and there rested a dragonfly. Not just any dragonfly, but the same beautiful, purple one from the day before. It couldn’t be. But after further inspection, I confirmed it was the same dragonfly. I started to wonder what this bug meant to me, but Henry’s request to leave put it out of mind.

The next few days continued in a blur. Sunday became a double-dreaded day because it was my former boyfriend’s gravestone unveiling in addition to Hannah’s wake. So down to Philadelphia my father and I went, only to drive back immediately to see Hannah’s family for the first time since the accident. All I could think about was how good it was that I already had a “funeral” dress. After the wake, I met up with friends and reminisced over drinks. It felt good to be around the people who knew and loved Hannah too.

On Monday morning, the pews were filled by the time my mom and I arrived at the funeral, so we stood along the wall. I watched friends weep as I cried for Hannah, who we all knew really lived her life. Afterwards, I rekindled high school friendships and tried to keep busy before heading back to school in the next few weeks. I stuffed my pain back inside me. “I’ve done this before; I can handle this,” I’d repeat to myself as the tears would threaten to fall.

But one afternoon, on a routine run to clear my head, my legs took me to the graveyard, where I found a flower-covered gravesite showered in sunlight. It was only appropriate that no tree would ever block the sun near where she lay. Hannah was a sun child who would sunbathe from dawn ’til dusk whenever she could. As I sat down on the grass and turned my iPod off, the pent-up tears came.

All the pain, suffering, and longing to just hug her again came boiling to the surface and flooded out. At one point, I cried so hard I found myself curled up in the grass lying next to her asking why. Why her? Why again? Why now?

Unsure of how much time was passing, I calmed down and lay on my back, staring at the almost cloudless sky. I rolled to my left to lean on my side before getting up, and it appeared: a dragonfly. Blinking away the remaining tears, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was I really seeing a dragonfly? This time sitting on Hannah’s grave marker? It couldn’t be.

I reached out my hand towards the dragonfly. Instead of flying away, it flew closer to me and landed on the grass. I sat up, mesmerized by this beautiful creature. I bent my knees to hug them to my chest and tears began to creep up again. But before I could really cry, the dragonfly flew up and landed on my knee. That’s when I started to laugh. This was no coincidence. I knew it was Hannah, visiting to comfort me.

I left the graveyard after the dragonfly caught a breeze and flew away. Even though my pain and ache for Hannah will never quite go away, I always keep an eye out for dragonflies because I know she’s with me. It’s only appropriate that she appeared as a dragonfly because she was as beautiful, vivacious, and gracious as one.

~Amanda Romaniello

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