And then she flew, using her wings for the first time and I only knew when I looked up to find her gone.
I did not see her form into her chrysalis or emerge, I missed those too, in the same way I missed her departure - moving my attention for what seemed like moments. Her private moments - not mine. Her own life.
I stepped outside into the filtered sunlight and looked around for her. It is late in the season and I doubt she will accomplish the journey to the winter grounds that Monarchs seek more than 2,000 miles from our home.
“More life is better...“ my husband had offered, his voice attempting comfort through the phone, attempting to shorten the distance between us, as I lamented her plight - perhaps I should not have interfered with the caterpillar.
But now this tiny creature has felt the sun and will travel the breeze and know the freedom she was made for.
Tears gather in my eyes and I stand in the kitchen searching out the windows in hopes of a possible glimpse of her on the other side of the house. But these windows look northwest and that is not the direction she is called to. She is a mystery now. As are these tears.
I return to my writing table and look through the glass door on the now-empty branch of spent Joe Pie Weed that I watched her perch on for the past few hours. That spot is emptier now than the space recently occupied by her small body - the combined space of her presence and my attention.
Over the next few hours, I glance up occasionally, partially from new habit, partially in hoping she has returned. The sun recedes slowly and the small stems that held her are left in the pale light.
She did not return. I hope she is following the sun. I hope she is tasting the air. I hope she has more life.
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