Have you ever wondered if God really hears you when you pray? I don’t remember ever not praying in my life time; it’s just always been something very important to me to do. But, does God really hear me? It’s easy to say that God answers,”yes,” to our prayers when we receive something that we really want. But, when we pray and don’t get what we want, we assume God’s answer is, “no.” I’ve accepted the fact that God said, “no,” when I begged Him for healing over Kayla’s sick and frail body. I didn’t like the answer I was given, but, I’ve learned to accept it. Since her death, there have been days when I felt that it was pointless to pray. I’ve thought, “Why should I even bother to pray when God didn’t save my daughter?” But, over time, God has opened my eyes to see some of the blessings that have come from the loss of Kayla.
One afternoon early last week, I was outside walking my dog. I began thinking about how September 22, the third anniversary of Kayla’s death, was quickly approaching. I knew it was going to be a difficult day to get through. So, I thought about what I would want on this significant day to assure me that she was okay. Orange butterflies have been a sign of comfort for me since Kayla died. This color represents leukemia, her red/orange hair, Orange Beach, Alabama (her favorite vacation spot), and more. I didn’t wake up and choose an orange butterfly to remind me of her; it just evolved into it. And, at that moment, I knew what I wanted and I began a silent prayer, “God, please send me an orange butterfly…….” In the blink of an eye, a small orange butterfly instantly appeared at my feet! And, as quickly as it appeared, it flew away. How did this happen? I did not even finish my prayer when the butterfly appeared! I was initially asking God to please send me an orange butterfly on September 22. But, I never expected an instantaneous answer. I’ve never had a prayer answered that quickly and blessed with exactly what I asked for, either! I immediately thanked God for the butterfly. And, because God sent it to me as an early gift, I decided that I didn’t have to see on on September 22. I just prayed for comfort and strength to get through the day. Later, I privately told Joel about what happened. And, he was happy to see me smile.
I woke up a little later than usual on Sunday morning of September 22. I knew I needed to make a decision about visiting Kayla’s grave. Part of me knew I should be there even if it was just for a few minutes. Another part of me, felt that it would be too emotionally difficult to be anywhere near the cemetery. Thankfully, Joel insisted that I get up and get dressed and said he would take me there. Just as we were a few miles from our home and sitting at a red light, Ashley, who was in the back seat, said, “Look! There’s an orange butterfly!” I was so happy and thanked God for answering my prayer request for this special day. We continued on our journey to the cemetery, but, needed to stop for gas. And, from one end of the building of the gas station to the other end, an orange butterfly flew by. I couldn’t believe it! God sent me two butterflies today! What a blessing that was for me! As we kept heading to the cemetery, I decided to stop by a local Walmart and find something new to put on her grave site. We decided to get a new wind chime. There was already one there, but, it was rusted and the colors had faded. I looked for a butterfly wind chime, but, had no luck finding one. We decided on one with a lady bug; A lady bug is another nick name some friends and coworkers had given Kayla while she was working in a bakery. And, that bakery, was located just across the street from the Walmart we visited. As we drove by it, my mind went back to Kayla’s first day at work. I remember taking her there and she was so nervous and scared to get out of the car. I kept encouraging her that she would be fine and to go in and just do her best. Now, I wish I just would have held onto her and not allowed her to work, go to school, socialize, and kept her in a plastic bubble and maybe…..just maybe……I could have protected her from cancer………We arrived at the cemetery and walked up the hill to her grave site. We removed the old wind chime and replaced it with the new one. The wind was slightly blowing and just enough for the chimes to make a beautiful and peaceful sound. A few minutes later, one of Kayla’s best friends, Courtney, her boyfriend and her mother arrived carrying a vase of beautiful fall flowers. I had not seen them in a while and was so glad that I did. Courtney’s birthday is, also, on September 22. It was over a year after Kayla died when I learned that her dear friend, who was like a sister to her, shared a birthday with Kayla’s Heavenly birthday. I said to Courtney, “Your birthday is forever changed and will never be the same again.” She agreed, but, was blessed to share something so significant and special with her best friend. We were all gathered around the head stone sharing memories and stories of Kayla. All of a sudden…..there it was again……a beautiful ORANGE BUTTERFLY! It flew right over her head stone, over the top of our heads and then quickly disappeared. I was stunned and amazed. I really didn’t know what to say or what to think. But, everyone saw it! God really heard me!!! And, that was all that I wanted. I wanted to be able to see an orange butterfly on September 22. But, God sent me three butterflies that day to represent three years! Some might say this was nothing but a coincidence, but, I have to disagree. This was a direct message sent to me by our Heavenly Father to assure me that my daughter is okay and she is still with me. I’ve never experienced a prayer request to be instantly answered and hit me right between the eyes. I’ve waited for three years for a moment like this. With the exception of a few dreams about Kayla, this is the first time I’ve truly felt her presence. God allowed me to have a brief moment with my daughter and I am beyond grateful for this gift.
When I think back to all of hours I spent pleading and bargaining with God to take cancer away from Kayla, I get overwhelmed. There were moments when I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall. I didn’t understand why He wasn’t listening. But, I believe He did hear me. He did answer my prayers. I prayed, “Dear God, please take this horrific and devastating cancer away from Kayla, please heal her, allow her to be set free from this pain and suffering.” He did all of these things for her……in Heaven.