Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Conversation With...BONUS: The Ladybug Story

The Ladybug Story is related to this week's "In Conversation With..." printed in the Oxford Journal. 
The story comes courtesy of Cindie Smith, whose daughter, Maggie, is the namesake for Maggie's Place, family resource centres located in Amherst and Truro.

This story explains why there are ladybugs on the centres' logo.

The Ladybug Story
by Cindie Smith

On April 24, 1994, my younger daughter Maggie died. We had known for quite some time that she would die very young; she was almost five years old. But her passing was at home, peaceful and surrounded by those who loved her.

My older daughter, Emily, was at the fragile age of 13 when her precious little sister died. She had waited a long time for a baby sister and it just hurt so much that she was gone. It was almost more than she could bear.

We were at Maggie's funeral and the church was full of loving, caring people. I was touched that they all took the time to come and support us. But my attention couldn't linger on all of those kind hearts. My concern was for Emily. She was sitting quietly between her father and me. The funeral bulletin was in her lap and her head was lowered, still not comfortable with crying in front of strangers.

She was becoming visibly stressed. Her body was stiff and the struggle was evident at a glance. If she had a broken bone, I could take her to the hospital. If she had a fever, I could give her some medicine and a cool bath. But there was nothing I could do about the pain she was enduring now. Nothing but fold her into my arms and hang on tight.

I have a faint memory that the words from the clergy were kind and the music was beautiful. But Emily didn't find comfort in this. I was becoming concerned that the build up of emotion and stress would be more than she could stand. She was sobbing to try and release it but she couldn't get it all out fast enough. She was visibly struggling and I was becoming more worried for her.

I was about to tell her that it would be okay if we went outside for awhile when from under the bulletin in her lap came a ladybug. Em nudged me and pointed to it, sniffling and smiling, and pronounced, "Look, Mom, it's Maggie!" Emily used her hands to guard so that our little ladybug didn't fall off the edge. After she had fully explored the page and relieved some of Em's tension, she lifted her spotted shell and spread her wings. She flew around our faces for just a moment and then flew off.

After the funeral, we drove to the Robie Street Cemetery where Maggie would be buried next to her great-grandfather. Emily was tucked under my right arm. I could feel her body growing more rigid as she tried to pour out all her sorrow. Again, just as I was about to suggest that we took a little walk to calm her, the ladybug appeared from the flowers on top of Maggie's little pink coffin. Em managed a smile and her stress immediately eased. The ladybug flew around our faces for just a moment before disappearing.

We were so moved by the presence of the ladybug and so grateful for all that she brought to us that day, we had one engraved on Maggie's headstone. Just like the ladybug on the bulletin in the church, Maggie had explored all she wished to in this world and when she was finished, she flew away. But while she was here, she reminded us that all children bring their own special gifts and challenges. It is up to us to accept and appreciate them for who they are.

by Cindie Smith
and reprinted with gratitude. sjm

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