Papi's Sign
Mysterious Ways|December/January 2021
“I saw a butterfly,” my mother said with a shy smile. It was the first time I’d seen her smile since my father’s death the week before. After a seven-year period of steadily declining health, he’d passed away in his bed at home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters. It was a peaceful end to his suffering, but saying goodbye was still difficult. We all missed him terribly. Especially Mami.
Janel Rodriguez

“I asked your papi for a sign,” she said. She told me she’d left her Manhattan apartment to run some errands for the luncheon we were planning in Papi’s honor.

“I was waiting at a crosswalk, and I just prayed from the heart. I said, ‘Send me a butterfly to let me know you’re all right.’ Not an hour later, it happened!”

Mami explained that after meeting with the luncheon caterers, she’d walked to a fruit stand on the street corner to pick up some mangoes. There, dancing around the mangoes, was a butterfly!

It was probably a cabbage moth, I thought to myself. Little run-of-the-mill white butterflies that take over New York City during the summer. You see them everywhere. But I held my tongue. I didn’t want to spoil the moment for her.

“Then I walked over to the funeral home to give them the final payment for Papi’s service,” Mami continued. “And just as I was leaving, this big, black butterfly with bright, multicolored wings swooped down from out of nowhere and circled my head three times!”

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