Posted by: Kate | November 18, 2009

White Butterflies

Sometimes, it’s embarrassing, how little effort it can take to put a little good karma out into the world.  Embarrassing both because you end up getting far more recognition than you actually deserve, and because it feels so good to know you’re brightening someone’s day that you start to feel a little guilty for feeling so good.

Logical?  No.  But still.  Think back to the last time you decided to take the extra step and do something for someone just because it seemed like a good idea, even though there was nothing tangible coming back in return.  (And if you’re thinking back, and you can’t remember the last time, then maybe it’s time now?  I’m not suggesting that we all should strive for lives of selflessness and giving; I certainly spend more than my share of time just living my life, focused on my own priorities, unconcerned about the betterment of the world in general or of any other person in particular.  But once in a while, it does something good for the soul, or the heart, or the spleen, pick an organ… it feels good to take a peek at the bigger picture and try to do something for reasons other than simple self-benefit.)

I’m not making much sense, am I?  And I almost hesitate to write about it, because while I do enjoy doing things just ’cause, I also have no interest in portraying myself as righteous or holier-than-thou (or anyone, really).  There is a value all its own to just doing things quietly and letting it go unremarked… but sometimes I feel it’s important to put words to it, draw a little attention, because then maybe it will inspire someone else to start a similar project, or it will help counterbalance the extremely negative vibes being sent out into the universe about me from my in-laws.

So, sometimes I write it out.  The last time was the little scarf project I knit, back in January.  That was a feel-good kind of experience, and I went on to post the pattern for the scarf itself.  I know other people have made the same scarf, now.  I can’t know what they did with it afterward, but if they ended up with a project that made them happy, great.  Mission accomplished.

And this time, it was the white butterflies.

The short version of the story is, a few months ago, a woman I’ve known for a few years, only through words on a message board, shared a sad story.  She had lost her sister, under painful circumstances, many years prior, and every year after that, she would receive an anonymous package in the mail: always a white butterfly, in different forms and fabrics and textures.  It provided her with a quiet reminder of a beloved and much-missed sister, and it helped soothe a sore spot in her heart.

Then, this year, a favorite aunt died, under less intense but still painful circumstances.  And a few months later… no white butterfly arrived in the mail.  She had suspected that the aunt was the mysterious sender,  but had never asked.  So she shared her story, just because she was having a hard day and she knew she had a sympathetic and attentive audience.

Several people replied, and before long I got an idea.  I wasn’t prepared to take on an annual responsibility for her, but a one-time gesture could certainly be arranged.  So I dropped a line to some people, others caught wind and contacted me, and over the course of the next few weeks, butterflies began arriving at my house.  First from around the United States, and then a few from Canada and Europe… each one was small, in size, but lovely in its own way.  And between that, and some arts-and-crafts time here with my kids and my sisters, we ended up with…


Gorgeous, aren’t they?

It took me longer than it should have, to finally get them to the post office, but a week or so ago, they made their way out of Salem and around the globe. They arrived yesterday.

And I’m grateful. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do things like this, because it means I have friends and an open mind. I’m grateful to have the luxury of time and materials and creativity, because any number of people could have thought of it, but their lifestyles might not have allowed them to act. I’m grateful to have a family who supports – and even contributes to – these little projects, because it would be so easy for them to scoff or ask, “Who are you trying to impress?” when instead they ask, “How can I help?”



  1. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. How lovely.

  3. What a great collection of butterflies!

  4. Those are beautiful! How great to actually follow through on such a sweet gesture.

  5. Kate-this entry made me cry, and no it’s not just hormones 🙂 I was so curious about your RAK project and so glad to see the final outcome! This is just lovely

  6. Wow Kate. So sweet, so touching. They are beautiful.

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