I woke early, near 4 a.m. and knew immediately that it was an anniversary morning – six months from that indelible morning when my life changed more deeply, more profoundly than any other life event I’d experienced. Frank did not wake up that morning.

The weeks had passed and left me knowing that each day would arrive in its own way with my emotions charting the course. Some were despairing, painful. My anchor was gone and my fragile lifeboat was adrift in an ever changing sea of memories and hopelessness. Others were seemingly normal as I found my way in a new way – doing the things I always did – feeding the parrots and dogs, tending the garden, watering the plants, paying the bills, going to the feria, eating, sleeping, doing. Some were simply long and lonely. At least I now was feeling myself past the panic attacks and gnawing anxieties that plagued the first four months after his passing. I was beginning to look forward again.

What had changed? My understanding about life and death had radically shifted. No longer could I deny the seemingly coincidental or magical occurrences. No longer would I succumb to the cultural advice about ‘moving on’ or ‘remember the good times’ or even ‘time will heal’. Early on I made the decision to face my grief head on – without pills or pity, and found to my complete surprise that there were gifts among the ashes of grief. After reading Many Lives, Many Masters I understood that it was more about ‘life everlasting’ than finding ways to cope with finality. I knew Frank was here in a different way and it was up to me to adjust my sensitivity to his new vibration, his new presence. My own profound changes made me able.

I began to find actual joy in looking for his messages and his messengers. Dreams and early morning visions were common in the early months along with electrical signals. Flashing lights in the night. My microwave oven that would start or stop on its own. I began to communicate with him late at night through a kind of automatic writing. Now it was turning to butterflies and moths.

The Blue Morpho butterfly was my personal totem. It had appeared to me six years before when I stood in front of the old Tico house on the edge of a hill overlooking San Isidro de El General. I was on the last day of a tour designed to show me the possibility of living in Costa Rica and I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I couldn’t afford to live or buy here. The run down house was barely affordable….but rational thinking suggested I go home and think about it. So I asked the question to the Universe. Is this where I am supposed to be? The bright blue morpho flew slowly past my head from the right and then turned to pass again from the left. Unquestioningly I knew it was a sign – and everything fell into place for my move to Costa Rica.

No wonder I found myself already looking for signs from Frank to mark the anniversary date. I got up leisurely and walked out onto my front porch. The sun had almost cleared the mountains and there below were a few morning clouds I still referred to as ‘sleeping angels’ for their long, horizontal forms just above the city. I went about my morning as usual feeding the dogs and parrots, showering, watering the covered vegetable garden and picking some lettuces for a fresh salad I would enjoy later. As I rinsed the lettuces under the faucet I glanced absently through the square window above the sink. I called it my Zen window, allowing a close up view of grasses and colorful croton leaves. On the shelf just below it was a collection of glass butterflies and the framed Blue Morpho butterfly, posed in death with wings wide open. With a start I saw the new addition – a very large moth perched among the collection. It was so striking that I instinctively reached out to touch it, just to see if it was real. The wings moved almost imperceptibly.

All day I kept checking on the moth and she stayed there, present and unmoving. I knew it was a female because I’d immediately done a Google search online to find out as much as I could about my surprise visitor. I found that she was an Atlas Moth, so named either for Greek mythology or for her map like wing pattern, and the largest moth in the world – with an up to 12 inch wing span. This one was only about 7 inches. She stayed for two more days. On the third day I was concerned that she needed to fly free outside to stay alive. Very gently I offered her my finger and then carefully covered her as much as I could with my other hand. Outside I let her go. She flew to a nearby ornamental ginger flower and stayed awhile longer while I photographed her and thought about what a beautiful messenger she had been for Frank.

All week I thought about the moth. How appropriate that Frank would send an Atlas moth. He so loved maps and patterns. And his favorite book was a well-used red leather bound atlas and now one of my favorite possessions. Stretching my imagination a bit, the intricate and repetitive markings on the moth wings were almost like looking at the earth from far above – the bluish shimmer of a distant shoreline and the triangular shapes of mountain peaks. As the days passed and my scientific mind wrestled back its control, I thought about things like how the moth got into my house and what attracted it to the glass ornaments and framed Morpho. I didn’t have answers though I knew it had to have flown through my open door. Since it was the first Atlas moth I’d seen here, I appreciated the rarity. I had no idea about the magic to come.

Ten days later I again woke to find an Atlas moth near my Zen window – this time just behind the butterfly. I saw by the feathery antennae that this one was male and photographed him an hour later when he repositioned himself just below my framed Blue Morpho.

I had no answers. Only lots of enduring questions. Did the Blue Morpho represent me? Was the juxtaposition simply coincidental? Serendipity? Or a conscious message through an interrelated conscious Universe?

Three days later I again decided he needed his freedom outside. Extending my finger I was surprised that he easily crawled onto it. Outside I stood with him on my finger and looked beyond to the trees and the valley and the distant city. I spoke to him as Frank.

Thank you for coming to visit, to comfort and to be here with me now. You remind me and reassure me about the greater mystery of life and death. I love you forever.

His wings trembled first and then he flew gracefully, silently beyond.

In 2015 I completed a painting, Morpho and Atlas to remember the magical event.