The Yew Tree and The Viceroys
I expected to have dreams about my mother after she died. While I haven't actually seen her this way, I have had one dream.
I dreamed that I had gone to Ireland by boat, in order to plant her ashes into the ground. In this dream I dug a small hole into a field near the sea. With the sound of the waves in the background, I carefully placed her ashes into that hole, and then covered it with dirt. Within a matter of seconds a yew tree stood where her ashes had been buried. It was about as tall as me, and the branches were full, and sprouted berries.
I took this as a sign of growth and rebirth. Just as the ancient Celts believed that life with return with every spring, I saw this dream as a similar promise.
Currently, my sisters and I are in disagreement on what to do with mother's ashes. She had wanted to be buried, but we couldn't afford it. So, eldest sister suggested either burying them, or placing them in a mausoleum. I would prefer to scatter them somewhere. It may be one of the most difficult tasks I were to undertake, but I'm more than willing to do it. We have time, as no decisions have been made yet.
I had contemplated taking some of her ashes, and scattering them when I visited England, but I'm not sure how to get them past TSA. If they find a vial of a powdered substance, they might think I'm smuggling Charlie, not Lonnie. That's not something I want on my passport.
As for the viceroys.
The day of the Lindsey Stirling concert (the second time I saw and met her) it rained. I remarked that it rained the first time I saw Lindsey as well. This was the day before the funeral, so it had added significance.
Somehow, a small viceroy butterfly fly through the rain without being clobbered. It flew across my path as I walked to the bus, and landed in the grass. The viceroys have significance in this case because of their color. They are yellow, with black trim on their wings. Black and gold are the colors of Pittsburgh, and all our sports teams. My mother dyed her hair blonde, so I took the viceroy as a double meaning.
I remarked that it was odd it would fly in the rain, and saw it as a good omen. I had a great time at the concert, made a new friend there, and then went to the funeral the next day.
The funeral is another story, for another time.
I didn't see any viceroys the day of the funeral. However, a few days later, as I made my way from work, I felt very demoralized. I wasn't sure where I was going to live, how I'd take care of the cats, or myself.
There were, and still are, many unanswered questions about my future. Just as the bus rounded a corner, only ten minutes from where I live, another viceroy flew in front of the bus, and then beside my window seat. I then flew away.
Since then, the viceroys have appeared when I'm going through periods of great stress or uncertainty. Oddly enough, I was deathly afraid of any insect when I was a child, except for ladybugs; which my mother was fond of. Yet, when I see these viceroys I take them as a sign of comfort.
When I flew to England I had a layover in JFK in New York. As I sat in the departure lounge I was told there was a delay with the flight. It pushed everything back by an hour. And as I was upset, another viceroy showed up. This time, it flew against a strong wind. I could see it right through the departure lounge window. It landed on the gantry that connects the passengers to the plane.
When I was in Leamington Spa, I was feeling upset about something. I took a walk through the park near the bowls club. A viceroy flew past me, and over my head.
When I returned home, and was concerned about a personal matter, another viceroy flew past me. I took that as a sign that all would be well. Just the other day, two viceroys flew side-by-side, only to branch off in different directions. It was as if one were teaching the other to fly. I took that as a sign that mom taught me all that she could, it was up to me now.
I am reminded that butterflies, like certain birds, are psychopomps. These are animals that are believed to carry the spirits of the dead into the afterlife. While I'm not certain how this belief came about, I'm also reminded that the Greek word for butterfly is psyche; which means, “animating spirit, or lifeforce.” This is also the Jungian and Freudian terms, respectively, for all that makes up a person's identity and personality. It's also the root of the term “psychology” itself.
Make of this what you will. A skeptic would say that I'm fulfilling a need with a fantasy; wish fulfillment. Maybe I am. If so, why is that a bad thing? A person of faith might say that God is sending me a message. A person of a more New Age persuasion might say that I'm being sent a direct message from my mother; a flying telegram, so to speak.
My own opinion is that whatever it is, it reminds me of something my mother would tell me often. “You have to have faith.”
That's what I'm trying to do now.
Text copyright Riley Joyce 2016
Author's Note: Yew trees were commonly used to make archer's bows in the Middle Ages.