The bulbs from our indoor white hyacinth bloomed on Christmas, and despite being rainy for days before and after, Christmas day was sunny.

I am not a particularly religious person, but I do think I have become more spiritual over the years. Anyone who has lost someone to some dreadful accident or to some awful disease, won’t respond well to the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. Unfortunately, I think bad things happen to good people for no reason at all. And it’s awful. There is no other work-around for it. There is never anything right to say, or justification to give. It’s just bad. I like the Dutch expression to offer strength, to cope, to continue on, to manage. That’s all one can wish for on a particularly bad day.

But now after the initial pain has dulled and my own life continues chugging along after losing my dad, I realize I cope differently, believing in a bit more magic.

A couple days ago, we realized a beautiful large moth was perched inside our windowsill. It seemed curious to me that 1. it had managed to get inside despite having all the windows and doors closed for days, and 2. that it had escaped our cat’s attention, the household’s aggressive bug hunter. This moth, that I’d preferred to imagine as a gorgeous butterfly, was sitting in stillness, looking out our window.

My dad always called all the spiders in our house “his friends,” and insisted that we let them live, resulting in endless cobwebs and daddy long-legs in every corner and crevice of my childhood home. Growing up Catholic, my dad was a Buddhist during my time with him, and didn’t believe in killing anything. We lived amongst the bugs in our house, and when he was sick, always keeping his humor, he told us that after he was gone, “when we see a pencil drop, or a butterfly land, that was him.”

So, we let the moth out the door into the wintery world, and I followed him onto the balcony. He didn’t go far, landing close to a different window a bit farther from where he’d come, but now outside. I stood with this moth for awhile, in the rain, thanking him for visiting. Telling him we were okay without him. Telling him I loved him very much.

I know this sounds kooky. It is. But the idea of reincarnation often brings me comfort. Likely, this moth was not my dad. But what my dad has taught me, both in his life and after it, is to be more kind to living things. To appreciate them more, to be more grateful for a spider, or a butterfly. I stood in the rain for awhile watching that moth, and looking out into our backyard. And told him again, in the middle of this pandemic where we often feel alone, “we’re okay.” Then I left the moth to sit there by our house, and went back inside.