Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get what we ask for. Not always. We can’t count on it happening every time, but if we are persistent, it just might happen. Today it happened to me. There is a place I often go so that I might walk and sit in quiet peace. It lies next to a river that is perpetually dry. On rare occasion one might see a coyote walking the dry riverbed in search of a mouse or rabbit to feed upon, or the glorious visual feast of sacred datura in full bloom. I saw the white blossoms of the datura, the flash of the coyote avoided me this day.
The park is a monument to a child who was killed in a mass shooting here in Tucson on January 8, 2011. Christina-Taylor Green was nine years old on that day. She, along with five others were killed and twelve others were wounded. The park is a beautiful tribute to this brown-eyed child. It is said she brought sunshine with her wherever she went, and Christina loved butterflies.
I took my cup of tea, my notebook, and I walked along the edge of the riverbed. As I strolled, I kept thinking I wanted to write something about the amazing child that was and that is Christina. I turned over ideas, but nothing seemed to work. After I completed my walk, I sat on a bench in the park, and tried to come to a decision about what to write. It was early, maybe six a.m., unusually cool with the western sky slightly dimmed by gray clouds. I glanced up and the picture below was what I saw. I am not a religious man, yet I believe there must be something guiding this vast everything. I cannot put it into words that do any justice to what it is. I must leave that to those much wiser than me.
Perhaps it was mere coincidence, perhaps it meant nothing more than an ordinary moment that occurs in nature. Yet, I was given a gift, a chance to see it, and I am grateful for that.
I came home, and I wrote this poem. It is not finished to my satisfaction, but the words are what I have now, and I wanted to share them.
I dream of a child
I know little about life
Being so young, I know only of
I wish I was a butterfly
Maybe I shall be someday
Do you like butterflies?
Oh yes, very much
My answer seemed small
She knew my hesitation
Smiling, she took my hand
Let me show you my magical place
We must be quiet and happy
If we are lucky, we will see them
We walked peacefully, silently
Her child’s face grew serious
Do you know if there is a heaven?
Not wanting to disappoint, I answered,
I hope there is
She laughed, brown eyes ablaze
I know there is. You want to know how?
Yes, tell me
Because that’s where butterflies go
They rise into the sky
Blue, red, green, and yellow
And they are happy forever
I want to be where the butterflies are
When I go to heaven
But I know little about life
Being so young
I know only of butterflies
In my seventy-three years, only one other time has something so overwhelming and so unexplainable happened to me. Perhaps that story will be told another day. This morning I sat and cried as I’ve often done in that park. Today there was my sadness, but there was also joy. I felt joy for the life of a child I never met. A child that in nine short years knew far more than I’ve learned in over seven decades. Christina-Taylor Green, a girl who loved butterflies.
Go well, David.