My mother collects angels. My husband collects banks. My brother collects unusual percussion instruments from all over the world. I have friends that collect items as varied as Disney memorabilia, teapots, shoes, Superman collectibles, and rare coins.
I used to collect pigs. The fascination with pigs started sometime in elementary school. I can’t remember whether I was in fourth or fifth grade. I do remember that it all started with a “pig week” at school, sponsored by our media center. There were events throughout the week around pigs in literature. Somewhere along the line, I decided that I liked pigs because they were adorable, unique, intelligent, and incredibly misunderstood.
Anyway, as the years went on, I acquired all kinds of pig-related items. Most of them came as gifts from friends and family. I had posters, calendars, figurines, books, a game, notepads, tote bags…you name it. The collection seemed to peak during college. After I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, I brought most of the collection with me. Over time, distracted by new endeavors and realizing the limits of space in our home, the obsession waned a bit. I still have a few people close to me who look for unique pig items and send them my way. There is a corner of our guest room dedicated to the pig collection along with a few assorted kitchen magnets that grace the refrigerator.
Two years after Charlotte’s death, I think it’s safe to say that the pig collection is being replaced by butterflies. Ever since that day at Disney when Roger had his epiphany and shared the butterfly analogy with Charlotte, the concept of metamorphosis has been a part of our lives. I see butterflies everywhere. Others see them too. They share butterfly stories with us. We have received some beautiful butterfly gifts over the last two years ranging from stained glass creations and garden statues to necklaces and decorative plaques. I rarely leave my house without wearing a butterfly of some kind each day.
Butterflies are not only beautiful, they spread beauty throughout the world as they transfer pollen from flower to flower. Their lives are short but they make the most of their time, sometimes traveling thousands of miles in their migration from place to place. When you encounter a butterfly, you cannot help but smile. That was Charlotte.
I think of her every day and I miss her. I am grateful that her legacy lives on in the work we do with our foundation. While grief is not easy, helping others eases the burden a little bit. I have been given the opportunity to give to others while sharing her spirit. In doing so, I remember the most unique butterfly to ever touch my heart. I will remember her…until pigs fly.
Special thanks to guest author Rachel Reynolds for sharing her story with us. Rachel founded CJ’s Thumbs Up  to honor the memory of her daughter, Charlotte. You can read more of Rachel’s work on her blog .