The Color Turquoise
Justin loved the vibrant color turquoise. It meant so much to him since he often used this color in his drawings, paintings, and sculptures and it was often his choice of color in his tee shirts. Today, after looking up the various meanings of this color, I can see why it meant so much to him, as it now does for me. “Seeing turquoise recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. You only have to focus on the color turquoise, and you feel instant calm and gentle invigoration, ready to face the world again! It also means: refreshing, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, good luck, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, intuition, and loyalty.”
Butterfly is the symbol of change, the soul, creativity, freedom, joy and colour. Their power is transformation, shape shifting and soul evolution.
Mothers Day, The Day of the Turquoise Butterfly
I had to remind myself that every day is Mother’s Day! I will always be known as “Justin Carr’s Mom” and I will love and cherish forever the memory of all the precious moments we shared together and as a family. Daily, I will mention and remember the sweet sound of music that resonates with his name.
Today, more than most days, my heart is heavy, trying to block out all the commercial advertisement that comes along with this day to honor all Mothers. But I also know that once a mother, you are always a mother. I must somehow face and embrace the flurry when all future holidays and celebrations come and go. Thankfully, I don’t stand-alone. I have Darrell lifting me up and a feast of friends and family who willingly have erected themselves around us to protect, reinforce and envelope us with love. These are indeed blessings.
I was taught early on from the best of the best, my beloved mother, Melvia Toler. She taught me to “be a little lady, to be skillful, creative and helpful and literally how to make lemonade out of lemons. When she left this earth, my siblings started calling me “ Mama Sue.” When I attended college, my friends also enduringly calling me “Mama Sue” I guess because I watched out for them, made sure they had food, made sure they came home safely from dates, and gave them advice (as I had to learn) on how to survive away from home. I guess, I can’t help having the spirit of caring and giving; it’s the maternal instinct in me. So, I now must claim it. Thank you Mom.
I also realize that you don’t have to birth a child to be a mother, nor does your child have to still be on this earth to claim the title. Any woman that gives her love, support and nurturing ways to any child, is a mother from the heart. Justin had a lot of mothers outside of our home that took him under their wings and watched over him wherever he went. I am grateful for all of you.
I tell you, it has been hard for me to find the words from within over the past few weeks and I have been unable to communicate my feelings. Should I call it writers block or just keep it real and just say that it is infinite heartbreak? I am writing now because I felt compelled.
Just a few minutes ago, I opened a gift that was given to me by my “new” friend Diane who just came into my life. She unfortunately has suffered a major loss in her life. Her beautiful daughter Katherine also prematurely and suddenly left this earth. Without warning I have leaned on Diane (and other sisters who have lost a child) for her wisdom and strength on how to get up and move each day and to walk in faith, live in love and never ever forget our precious angels who must now live through us.
The outside of the card Diane gave to me said in turquoise letters:
“ Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. Justin’s favorite stroke in swimming was the butterfly, the hardest no doubt.
The quotable magnet that also came with the gift said: “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder”… (Thoreau)
Inside the box was a beautiful turquoise baccarat crystal butterfly. The sight of this precious masterpiece of art set me back a notch. The tears rolled down my cheeks and I had to retreat and take a breath. It amazes me how someone else can step away from their inner pain and selflessly reach out and make someone else smile. I have no words. What a way to make my day. Thank you Diane for such a thoughtful gift of love for me. A few weeks ago Diane and I realized that the turquoise butterfly now has deeper meaning for both of us.
Note that all the following events are true, and came to me in the exact chronological order. I CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!!
1. Shout out Request from Mary
Mary Martin, my best friend since 1st grade, and fellow Girl Scout called me a few weeks ago. When we were 9 years old, Mary and Sharon McInerny and I went to a neighborhood in San Francisco called St. Francis Woods, to sell cookies. I went to this house, knocked on the door and an old Caucasian woman opened the door. I politely asked, “Do you want to buy and cookies?” She meanly said, “No!” and slammed the door in my face. Minutes later, I saw Mary about to knock on the same door and I said, “Mary, don’t go there, she does not want to buy any cookies.” To my chagrin, the woman opened up the door and with the brightest smile said to Mary: “Sure honey,” When Mary came hopping joyfully down the stairs, I told her what the woman did to me, and we quickly went home to Mary’s house where we cried together along with her mom due to the aftermath of this blatant racism which for me was my first encounter.
Mary called me on April 16, 2014. She told me that the night before, she was out in her yard watering and she looked up to the heavens and shouted “Justin please give your Mother a sign”
2. Justin and the Universe
Later that day, I received an email from Denise, a mother whom I met when Justin was in 6th grade. I have not seen her in 6 years. Her son and Justin briefly attended the same middle school together. She wrote me the following email in response to an invitation to attend the upcoming concert in honor of Justin:
Thanks for your note. I don’t know if I will be able to attend the concert, but here’s the strange thing: I was just about to write a note to you after a very long time. Based on what I was going to write, and now hearing from you, I’m reminded that there are some beautiful mysteries in our world, that’s for sure.
Yesterday evening I was walking my dog through the neighborhood. He is a pit bull, probably the friendliest pit bull that ever lived, but I’m used to people stepping away from him as he tugs at his leash. Usually, his whole body is wagging, hoping to get a pet from anyone we pass. But I always hold him back, out of courtesy.
I must have been lost in thought as we walked, because I didn’t see the boy sitting on the curb texting. Before I knew it, my dog was a few inches from him, about to lick him on the side of his face. The boy looked up silently and smiled at me (not at my dog). My heart skipped a beat and in my head I said “Justin?” It was his face, his smile, and his expression. I almost cried in those few seconds until he looked down again at his phone.
I hadn’t seen Justin since he was about 12 and this boy was about the same age. Back then, Zayn and Justin were both big boys, they hadn’t yet grown tall and thinned out. So this boy’s body was smaller, and seemed even smaller since he was sitting and curled over his phone. But the face, the expression, and the way he looked right at me … it was just amazing.
Instead of going around another block, when I got to the end of the street I turned around to go back the same way, to pass him again – but he was gone. On the one hand, it feels like a blip, a coincidence that I saw Justin in this boy. But however, it reminded me of the connections we all have to each other, to all life and to lives we have known, connections across this universe that we don’t fully understand.
I know it’s not the miracle your heart aches for. I don’t know why I saw that boy and saw Justin in him. Why me? Why Justin? Why yesterday and then you write to me today?
It is unknowable, but it IS something wonderful.”
3. The Turquoise Butterfly
Around noon that same day, I happened to call Diane. I left her a message because I had to go to a hair appointment because I was going to the school in celebration of the seniors on the Swim Team. She texted me when I was in the salon and this is the message she sent:
“Saw this on my daughter’s closet this morning. Never saw it before today even though I walk by this spot almost daily. Notice the turquoise! ! I felt like she was acknowledging that you and I needed something a little special today. We are loved. Xoxo Diane “
Next to the email was a picture of a turquoise butterfly that her young daughter had once drawn on the wall in her closet at some time gone by. I was speechless, I texted her that my friend Mary had just called me that morning telling me that she asked Justin to send me some signs.
4. Hair Salon
After looking at the text from Diane over and over again, I sat there stunned, in a place I had never been inside before. The hairdresser asked me was I going somewhere special and why did I seem so uneasy? I told him briefly that Justin was being honored along with his teammates on the swim team. He said great. But his expression quickly changed when I told him the backstory on the demise of Justin. After he finished my hair, he embraced me and walked me to the front cashier turned and walked away. When I tried to pay for the service, the attendant said. “ Oh, Michael did your hair for free.” I started crying and said, “OMG, Where is he”, she said, “ He is gone, he left for lunch” just that quickly. “ This has never happened to me. I went looking for him and he had left the building. A random act of kindness
5. Flowers from the best Florist in town delivered to my Door
At the end of the day upon returning home with my heart so full there was a knock on the door. It was a delivery from Jacob Maarse, Justin’s favorite florist and the best in town. To my surprise, the beautiful orchid was from Lisa, a class mother whom I have shared a few conversations with over years. I immediately wrote to her:
I cried on my way home after I saw you a few days ago. Do you know why?
I was grateful that you greeted me with a warm embrace and a smile (When I know how hard it is for people to find the words) I can write a book about all the people in our life who have run the opposite way when they see us or even neighbors who live mere blocks away who have chosen to stay away because the loss of my precious baby Justin is too much for them to bear… But, I can also say that we have so many people like you, who have chosen to walk with us and embrace us during this life long journey.
I was so glad that your friend who was with you whispered Justin’s name and told me that she thinks of me often even though she did not know me. I need to talk about Justin every day.
It’s that universal love of a lost that is so impactful and the infinite love a mother will always have for her child.
Today, the doorbell just rang and I was greeted with a beautiful orchid plant from our and “Justin’s favorite Florist” Jacob Maarse. He brought his date Kelly’s corsage for the semi formal a few years ago, he was planning on buying his date Channel who graduated from HW last year her corsage from there. Instead she decided to go solo, so I had to get her corsage and had them add a picture of Justin on it. Oh the memories…
Thank you my dear friend. We will keep this orchid alive. Justin would water the plants and told us how to keep them going. I will certainly try.
All my best to your son Ross as he makes his college choices. You should be proud! I am smiling. You made my day. Love, Susan”
Lisa told me she knows how days could be without your departed loved ones and she wanted to just brighten my day. She said I was thoughtful that I cared enough to ask about her son.
The turquoise butterfly landed this Mothers Day and Every Day!
These pieces of joy help me get through the day. It’s the thought that people, even strangers, feel and empathize with my state of mind and try in their own way to make my seemingly sad day brighter.
It is true, every time I see a butterfly or the color turquoise, I think of my baby Justin, my pride and joy. Seeing these brings me some relief in the moments of the day.
So for me, every day is Mothers Day. I have no regrets on how I mothered Justin. I gave all that I had to him. Most days were joyous and on the days that were too much, I’m glad that we got through them with the unconditional love and respect that would always supersede anything else.
At this juncture, I can’t ask for much more than that.
I will try to be as happy as I can, as I wake up each morning and try to put my feet on the ground.
Justin, my butterfly keep soaring and guiding me in all the days of my life. I will love you always, and I will love you forever. As long as I’m living, my baby you will be.
Justin, I will love you today, and tomorrow and all the days of my life. Someday, my days will not be as cloudy and the Sun, you my vibrant Son will come out and live through me.
I listened to your beautiful voice today as you sang “Tomorrow”
I love you Justin..
The Turquoise Butterfly and Justin soar among us…
Copyright 2014 All rights reserved