In Honor of a Friend Named Lucius --- and His Butterfly

>>  Monday, March 7, 2011

Thank you SBH Clay for writing and sharing the touching post that follows.  And thank you for recognizing the true worth in all the beings we share this life experience with.


In "Once Upon a Vegan" earlier this week, Bea wrote about butterflies.

I have not always loved butterflies.

A dog named Lucius introduced me to the first butterfly I would come to love. He did me this great honor in his final moments on earth.

Lucius walked deliberately, if gingerly, away from me and was standing by the pool fence, his back to me. Never had he done that before. Never had he purposely refused to look at me. He was telling me something important. Something he wanted me to understand with no ifs, ands or buts.

So I looked in the direction he was gazing in. East. And up.

A yellow butterfly appeared before our eyes. We let our eyes linger on her as she suspended her tiny body in mid-air, flapping her wings ever so slightly. She appeared to be waving goodbye to a dear friend. A friend named Lucius.

Like an angel messenger, full of grace and light, she seemed to be assuring us that all was well. That all would be well. That Lucius wouldn't be dying, but would be transformed, peacefully, effortlessly, harmoniously. That he had nothing to fear, because he would never leave divine Love and Life, the source of all true love and life. Lucius' life on earth had been filled with love. Now it would be filled with an even higher, purer love. A love that requires no physical presence to be felt. A spiritual love that strengthens the bond between all beings.

Our butterfly was telling him, and me, that Lucius' bouquet of beautiful qualities would never wilt, but would forever bloom with flowers named Affection, Delight, Nobility, Honesty, Innocence, Playfulness, Purity, Forgiveness, Goodness. And that this bouquet would remain in the hearts of all who knew him. Everyone from butterflies to Boxers.

She demonstrated for him how he would it would be for him. "You see," she was saying as she floated further East, further up, "you will become invisible to those of us still here, but you'll still be alive. Just over the horizon. Out of view. But never out of true sight. Never out of the only kind of sight that counts. Spiritual in-sight."

As we watched her disappear into the sky through a narrow walkway between two homes, we saw a black car drive by. It was our neighbor Scott, who lived across the courtyard. We didn't know he'd be coming home at that noon hour. But we did know we needed his help. Our kind vet was waiting for us.

I ran down the walkway and past the row of garages until I reached Scott's open door. I asked him a favor--a request I wished could have been postponed forever. He said yes.

I walked back to Lucius and we waited, side by side. He still kept looking East, resting his gaze anywhere but on me.

Soon, Scott came out his front door. He and I guided Lucius ever so slowly away from the pool toward my car. I had parked at the front of the pool, as close as I could get to Lucius. Scott carefully lifted him and placed him gently on the back seat. I told Scott how the butterfly had led us to him. He said goodbye to Lucius, and wished us well. I thanked him with a hug.

Lucius stood stock still on the seat during the 10-minute drive to the vet. I sang hymns to him, as I had been doing all week, lying next to him on fluffy dog beds on the kitchen floor or sitting next to him on the soft grass of the sloped front lawn. In those last days, he was content to rest quietly in the world he knew and loved. (He had already made his last rounds to his favorite places, saying a silent farewell to one spot then another, embedding a memory of each in his heart.)

The vet techs were waiting to carry Lucius inside. As Scott had done, they held him tenderly, treating him like the precious boy he was. And still is.

On the floor in the little exam room where they took us, Lucius didn't want to snuggle. He continued to look away from me. It was as if he was insisting, right to the end, that he was ready to proceed on his journey, and didn't want me to second-guess myself later or have any regrets. What a true friend.

Our vet gave him a sedative, prompting Lucius to relax and lean into my arms. I whispered a few sweet somethings into his ear. He looked at peace. His body felt at peace. A few seconds later, he moved on, to the next stage of eternity. He was following the lead of his friend, transforming from caterpillar to butterfly. She was right. There was nothing but peace.

I didn't realize that our vet, in his compassion, was crying too. I patted his cheek in sympathy and thanks. We wiped away our tears. I kissed Lucius and told him to give my love to Cassius and Olivia, who were waiting to greet him and play with him. Even though Cassius and Lucius had never met, I knew that, as brothers, they would find one another.

The vet brought the physical body to his farm and buried it next to the body of Cassius in the horse pasture, under a stately tree.

I'm sure butterflies dance in that pasture, not just in spring and summer and fall, but even in winter. I see them everywhere I go, all year long. They appear out of nowhere, just as our friend did that memorable day. I wave, smile, and say softly to each one as he or she passes by, "Hi, Lucius." (Or "Hi, Luci." He never minded that nickname.)

I realize the butterflies aren't Lucius reincarnated and returned to earth. Rather, they serve as sweet expressions of bite-sized beauty in action as well as lovely reminders that the goodness and authenticity of each individual, no matter what the species or breed, is immortal, never confined to mortal forms. Indeed, each butterfly prompts me to rejoice that "Nothing that lives ever dies, and vice versa" (Science and Health, p. 374).

Little did I know that a project I had started when Lucius was still here would one day become an online book whose home page icons are ... butterflies! See When you visit Bea's other blog, PROVOKED you'll find the Creature Quotes link by scrolling down the page to the section LIBRARIES, RESEARCH & COLLECTIONS.

In my next guest blog at "Once Upon a Vegan," I will tell you about how Creature Quotes came to be. And about how I found the butterfly quotes and photos that I subsequently scattered throughout its pages. And about how loving Lucius and loving butterflies has propelled me on a transformative journey of my own: into veganhood.

video link


Bea Elliott March 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM  

What a lovely story about Lucius! I do hope you'll tell us how Lucius and you came to be friends... I know for me, all my "pets" entered my life in unusual, God-sent, special ways...

A flea market, road side cast-a-ways, a "free" one abandoned in a cardboard box, pound rescues and other such sources where refugees are to be found.

When my Midas went 2 years ago he was almost 19 years old... His body served him well, and for a very long time. I know in your story you make a good case why our loved ones never truly leave... Still, for me, things have never really been quite the same. :(

I have a bit more comfort now. I think he and Lucius are together (again) somewhere where they always were from the start... Waiting for us! Thank you... <3

SBH CLAY March 9, 2011 at 10:14 PM  

Hi Bea,

Lucius was first named Doug by the little girl whose mother bred their female Boxer. I found him through a lady at the vet's office. She told me about another customer who had just had a litter of Boxers that she would soon be selling to good homes. The timing was right for me. I called, paid a visit, fell in love with the lone male pup, Doug, and a few days later drove home with him snuggled against my neck. (My husband had bought our first Boxer as a pup, and that was all I knew to do: buy from a breeder.)

I'm grateful that partway through Lucius' happy life I discovered the wonderful world of animal rescue and from there adopted Olivia, a senior Boxer who had been left behind on a porch by her family when they moved. Olivia and Lucius had a loving relationship.

Since then, I've fostered a rescued Boxer and adopted another senior Boxer. In between, I've had a couple opportunities to unite lost dogs with their families (some existing, some new).

As you well know, it's a great feeling to provide a home for a dog who is patiently waiting for someone who appreciates all the goodness and love they have to offer.

Yes, I'm sure your more-precious-than-gold Midas has many playmates, Lucius among them -- and butterfly friends galore! Like you, I believe -- no, I KNOW -- that we will be reunited with the beloved friends who teach us, in their individual ways, so much about loyalty, forgiveness, pure-heartedness, honesty, modesty, meekness, patience, lovingkindness.

I'm glad your generous offer to this guest blogger has brought you comfort. Lucius and his butterfly send their blessings, as do I.