The Coffee Butterfly Effect

Day 12

How did I end up here? Drastically searching for a towel…any towel, something to soak up the mess.

Where do I start first? It’s all wet and with each passing second, brown stains are etching their way into a status of permanent damage. Damage to the carpet, walls…it’s everywhere.

Stains on pictures, iPads, memorable cards….and to my utter horror ….a card written to me from my 93 year old grandmother with words ..her actual words, in her actual handwriting…her physical card….some of her last words intimately to me…..were being drowned out and soaked with coffee spilled during my morning devotion. With each passing second, corner to corner, the card was more brown, sticky and completely soaked.

In my sheer panic, of trying to find a towel, wipe, Kleenex, toilet paper…heck …anything. (I would’ve settled for a chalkboard eraser in that moment.) My brain literally froze. Between my adrenalin, panic, and then sheer sadness …tears began to well up and I realized there would be no stopping the additional flood of tears that was about to pour down.

I just sat and wept. In true despair, for not knowing what to do immediately to mitigate the damage, but more so, how could I have avoided this total, and catastrophic destruction of an irreplaceable and invaluable keepsake. My brain began searching and searching…to no avail. There would be no answer and no way to avoid the coffee stains that were seeping into the folds of the card.

The back story is this butterfly pin card was given to me during law school in 2008 from my grandmother. She would write to me from time to time to encourage me as I would take up new journeys. This particular card had a gold butterfly pin attached to it. She hand wrote this card when she was 93 years old. Imagine the wisdom of a 93 year old woman being literally hand passed down to me. I kept it pinned to my devotion board that I kept in my prayer area. It was never really moved or touched. Part of my long term plan that I always talked about was to frame it with the pin and a picture of a butterfly. Clearly, that hadn’t happened or I wouldn’t be balled up in a weeping fest on the floor, covered in coffee, on a Tuesday morning.

The rest of the day was just somber and kind of like being in the twilight zone. You know it’s not the end of the world. You know there are real problems out there. But you can’t help mourning the loss of this card. Or should I say, the perfect, white, version of the card.

The miraculous part of this whole thing is that the actual handwriting didn’t smear. The coffee did a job on the card itself. But the words remained. The butterfly pin, itself, untouched. The card itself forever altered….but not destroyed. It’s former state no longer existed but it’s new, uniquely stained version remained. Still spoke the same words to me but now had the stain of today on it.

How lovely to be able to retain the perfection of each memory, and circumstance we find ourselves in. To keep it clean, perfectly colored, and untouched by life itself. To be able to ultimately control what happens. Ha!

The coffee disaster reminded me I don’t get the ultimate say or control over what is the final product or what goes in the frame. As much as I tried to figure out how I could’ve prevented what happened, no answer arrived.

Some days the coffee is going to spill.

Some days the mess will happen.

Some days it will be ugly.

Some days you will be hurt.

Some days you will fail.

Some days it will seem permanent.

And some days it is.

But despite the stains, the alteration, your identity isn’t destroyed. Just like the butterfly, there will be caterpillar seasons. Just like the butterfly, there is a whole time when things are messy and gross looking. Yet, you can rest assured that when this season is framed–the stains will all take on a beautiful pattern, just as butterfly wings are each unique –so to are each of our individual stains. Each, as unique and beautiful as a human fingerprint.

And whenever I do end up framing my grandmother’s precious words, my individual stains from this day will now, forever, be a part of that same frame. Our stains make up who we are. Sometimes they can only be seen internally, and every once in a while, they show up in a frame. Perfectly designed.

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