The Saga of Little Black Crumpled Wings

It was the visitation of one lone black butterfly with blue satin on his wings making his appearance at special times in my life while going through the years of my husband’s illness and the despair after his death, that God used to bring me comfort and blessing. 

In the summer of 2014, two years after the death of my husband, a warm Tuesday afternoon, I was walking in the yard past some plants when something captured my attention. It was a little black butterfly — caught in a clump of daylilies. I was stunned. Reaching down to rescue him I discovered, his front wings were curled on the edges and his back wings bent upward. Perhaps they had been damaged when he hatched from his cocoon, hindering his being able to fly. “You poor little crumpled wing creature,” I said, saddened as I lifted him from between the leaves. Without hesitation, he fearlessly grabbed hold to my forefinger with his tiny feet, securely attaching himself.   

After breaking a small twig from a bush, I transported him into the house, went into the bathroom, forced the limb through the grab-bar over my tub. Sprinkling water on the leaves, I supposed he might be thirsty and take some refreshment, where finally he nestled among the leaves on the limb and spent the night. 

• • • • •

 It was Wednesday morning now, the small, disfigured creature greeted me — folding and unfolding his pitiful wings. As I extended my hand over the bathtub to him; he climbed on and clung tightly to my forefinger. As we went out into the yard, I began breaking dandelion blossoms to offer him. Eagerly, he thrust his little tongue (proboscis) down into the flower, frantically, feeding on the nectar. This went on, as one flower after another was savored. From that I would hold him high in the air and give him a boost upward, trying to aid him in flight. He tried to raise himself aloft, fluttering his little crumpled wings, only to take a downward tumble to the ground. All day long, I spent with my little friend. 

At the end of the day he was returned to the limb over the tub. When I ran my bath water, as usual, I ran it very toasty, then slid into a heavenly soak. Little Crumpled Wings decided to try his maneuver and fluttered onto my back — unfortunately, my skin was wet and slippery. The poor little thing went sliding into the hot water. We both panicked. Certain he would be dead by the time I finally retrieved him—happily, he was recovered. Unscathed, he returned to his limb, where he was content to remain another night.  

The next morning, entering the bathroom, Little Crumble Wings was clinging to his branch of small leaves. I greeted him. He folded and unfolded his wings, “What can I do with you?” I wondered aloud. Soon I would be on my way and didn’t want to leave him there all day. Hence, I took him outside and placed him on the banister outside the front door. Promptly, he lifted his small crumpled wings and fluttered down to the porch-floor, where I left him. 

It was 12:30 when I returned home, anxious to find my little orphaned creature. Frantically, I searched, he was not to be found anywhere near the porch. With guarded steps, I made my way across the yard, combing my eyes across the grass… I caught sight of him in a shallow lake of sand, in the sun, entangled with weeds. As I stooped to pick him up, I saw in the sand lots of fire ants and was amazed that they had not eaten him alive! “Surely he must be hungry and thirsty,” I thought as I watched him grab onto my finger.

I glanced the dandelions on the front lawn full of blooms which Little Crumple Wings had seemed to enjoy just yesterday. He held on tightly as I gathered his feast, then seemed anxious to comply as I pushed a blossom beneath his tiny limber legs. He immediately thrusted his tongue down into the golden flower, then rolled it up. Graciously, he drank. Over and over in a tapping motion he gathered and did not stop. I picked more dandelions. Yes, I had become ‘Mommy’ to a black butterfly with blue satin wings for which my heart was pained. Surely, there could not be any kind of future nor hope for this pitiful creature. But in rescuing him, was I interfering with nature? 

Would this act of mercy end up causing me a broken heart?” I wondered. I did not have the heart to destroy the little creature. Though, a part of me hoped that some mother bird might have found him while I was at work and fed him to her chicks. “Was I cruel to wish that?”

Pushing the thought aside, I carried my little hatchling back into the house and carefully splattered droplets of water into the center of the blossoms. He seemed happy to find the refreshment and busily tapped deep into the reservoir. Supposing this would take a long time, I sat down in my recliner to get comfortable. When he had finished, he crawled over onto my hand and then my wrist, as he began a continuous rhythm, tapping his tiny tongue on my arm. I wondered what he was doing. Was that his way of saying, ‘thank you,’ or ‘I love you,’ in butterfly language? I guess I would never know.

I went outside with my little friend in tote, I deposited him onto a large pink hibiscus blossom. He immediately unrolled his little tongue down into the flower’s throat…gathering nectar. I turned to go water some plants…when back again, I transferred him to my geranium clusters, but this time, the butterfly showed no interest in any flowers. Time was getting on, there were chores to do…supper needed fixing.

After supper, I went back out to check on Little Crumpled Wings, but…he was gone! I frantically searched. Maybe the mother bird had found him…finally. Or, was it the large slick salamander that scared me silly the other day on that very same ledge, captured him and made him his supper? Combing the yard, the carport and flowerbed was to no avail…he was nowhere to be found!

Should I be sad? Should I feel guilty for leaving him as I had? Should I have never picked him up from the clump of daylilies and let him die? Or should I be relieved that I was no longer responsible for him and be reminded that God keeps His creatures alive in nature as the strong feed on the weak?

I’m sure God put that poor little butterfly in my way for a reason — a lesson. Allowing me a compassionate caring responsibility which, maybe never belonged to me in the first place. But I took it on myself. And oh, how it warms my heart, the experience in which I was privileged, for the little creature really needed me and for a few precious days, I had the fortunate opportunity to be a mother to a black butterfly with blue satin on his wings, the which has been a mystery that God Himself sent into my life. The little creature brought joy to me and I feel that I brought some measure of joy, strength and good to him, that without my care, he would have never known.

Summer of 2014 (Feb. 28, 2015)

By Renitia R. Ruff

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