Welcome to 2TheHeart!
As I read today's story, I knew it would touch many hearts. Unfortunately, many of us have had our lives impacted by suicide, and I pray that Carol's "Footprints in the Sand" will be a comfort to you. I was delighted when Carol also submitted photos of the day she scattered her son's ashes and have included them, along with the butterfly photo at the bottom of the story. Please take a moment to reply to this email and share your responses to this very powerful story. (Our Letter Box is back!)
Footprints in the Sand
Carol Lavallee Martin
My husband and I spend the winter months in Navarre, Florida on Santa Rosa Sound. My son committed suicide in 2008. He loved surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico at Navarre Beach. When I talked with him about cremation prior to his death, he had requested that I "find a pretty spot" to scatter his ashes. On a sunny day in October, we returned to this beautiful beach to spend time in meditation and reflection as we remembered a son who left us after only 43 years.
It was a peaceful afternoon as we held hands late in the day just before the sun would set. The wind was gusty causing gentle waves to caress the shore. We counted 135 moderate footsteps from the boardwalk to the area where I previously scattered my first beloved son's ashes in pure white sugary dunes where wispy sea grasses grow. I know that my son is with God, but it is here where the gulls and pelicans fly overhead; the sun blankets warmth upon the sand; and the white-tipped waves kiss the banks of the dunes where I am able to feel his spiritual embrace.
I searched for one seashell to keep marking the first anniversary of fulfilling his wishes. It didn’t take too long to find a perfect salmon pink shell. As I gently stepped among the sea oats in the dunes, my mind was silently speaking to my son whispering to him that I returned, how much I missed the sound of his voice, and how very much he was loved. Then I spoke aloud to God asking Him to show me a sign that my son knew I was present honoring his life memory at precisely the same time I scattered his ashes one year ago. No sooner than I had finished my intimate conversation with God, what did I find?
Resting in the sand dunes a few feet from where I buried some ashes was a Monarch Butterfly. I stooped down and observed it was ALIVE! I gently scooped it up into the palms of my hands placing it inside the shell I had found. I could feel its wings fluttering as though speaking in code to thank me for the warm covering and shelter my hands provided from the blowing winds! I shouted out with glee to my husband who was now standing down below the dunes watching me. I rushed to his side and smiled as I showed him what God had blessed me with in answer to my prayer. God is always with us and He does answer us; we just have to be listening and take time to be aware of His presence. He never fails us.
We continued walking along the shore and came upon a vacant lifeguard stand near the ramp leading to the parking lot. We climbed up the ladder together and sat talking about the magnificent beauty of the sea. I took a photo of the emerald green waters forming tiny waves lapping against a small sand reef. These distant waves were so small it appeared as though they were planting kisses on the damp un-trodden shoreline. As we climbed down from our perch and headed towards our car, I stopped to check on the butterfly. When I opened up my palms to take a peek, it responded by slowly and deliberately opening its wings presenting a velvet canvas of vibrant colors. For a brief moment, I stood in misty-eyed admiration of creation. I was able to capture a photo holding the butterfly in my left hand while clicking the camera with my right. I decided to place the butterfly in some tall sea grasses alongside the deck. It was important to release my gift so God could bestow yet another blessing on someone else who called out to Him. Other Monarchs were flying around the beach house and one big one landed on my shoulder as I danced and swirled in a circle like a little child. I began crying out, "Come here, come here!" My Father in Heaven must have been spreading word that all butterflies in the area would be safe! Or better yet, they had come to help guide the little one I had held for so long to its destination somewhere in Mexico.
One year ago I felt such deep sadness; today is different. Today I am more at peace in knowing my son is with his Heavenly Father. His loving spirit will always live within a special chamber of my heart. Is there really a God? Oh, YES! He makes His presence known to all His children. Our job is to stop, look, and listen. Perhaps next year I will find His footprints in the sand as He walks ahead of me. I will again be searching for that restful place in the dunes along the emerald shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Since He knows the exact spot~~I won’t have to be the one counting my steps! He will continue to lead me.
Carol Lavallee Martin
My previously published stories on 2TheHeart inlcude “The Nuthatch," 2002 and “Second Chance,” 2004. My husband, Jim, and I are Innkeepers at Stillmeadow BnB outside of Cooperstown, New York. I have written poetry and stories since I was a young girl. Sadly, I am no stranger to suicide. My first-born son also committed suicide in 1995, at age 34. I find my purpose now is being a “Compassionate Friend” to others who have suffered loss of a loved one to suicide. I extend my open heart to those who are hurting and in need of one who truly understands the pain of such a loss to contact me.