All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
My Sisters, the Butterflies MAG
I have two sisters: Mia was born a year before me, in 1998; Maura was born ten years after me, in 2010. All three of us were born with dark brown hair and my mom’s dimple in our chins.
When I was 11, I was known as the girl who loved bugs. Every summer since I was six, I had spent a week at Belmont University’s Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies Camp. My experiences at bug camp were exhilarating, though not for the weak-hearted. During my second year, Dr. Murphree added a giant millipede, about eight inches long, to the collection of bugs he made available for us to handle in his lab. The millipede was dark brown with little black legs. Her name was Susie, and she was my favorite part of bug camp. I loved the feeling of her thousands of legs inching up my arm. She scared everyone else, including my mom. The hissing cockroaches were also fun. When you lightly touch their heads, they respond with a hiss. I could fit as many as 27 on my arm at a time.
I never got to see my sister Mia. The doctors told my mom there was no known reason why Mia was stillborn. A year later my mom had a normal pregnancy and birth, and I was born. I’ve grown up knowing about Mia and visiting her at Calvary Cemetery, where she is buried. My mom tells me that when I was three, I would walk past her picture on my parents’ nightstand, pat it, and say “Baby Ow.” My parents also told me that at her funeral in July 1998, a group of monarch butterflies danced near the mound of dirt where they had just buried her.
I’ve always wanted the closeness that some sisters have. When I found out in October 2009 that my mom was pregnant again with a little girl, at first I was a little scared, but then really excited. We picked Maura as her name, and I could hardly wait for her to be born. I wanted to help her, teach her, play with her hair, hug her, and love her. I wanted to laugh with her and share secrets. My mom and I would stay up late talking about which room Maura would have and how we would arrange it.
I helped my mom around the house, gave her a ginger ale to calm her morning sickness, made sure she took her vitamins, and searched the Internet with her for baby items. As my mom’s belly got larger, I would sometimes talk to Maura at night. I once told her, “It’s okay if you want to be a girly girl. Mommy and I, we’re not very girly, but I can teach you to hunt bugs and about cool science things. Really, though, it’s okay if you want to be a girly girl.”
I have raised many different kinds of insects in habitats at my house, including ants, moths, millipedes, and worms. But my favorite of all was the butterfly kit. It contained 20 caterpillars, with nectar to feed them and a container for them to grow in. I watched for two weeks as the caterpillars gradually grew. Then I came home from school one day and three little chrysalises were inside the butterfly container. The next morning, all of the caterpillars were in chrysalises. Two weeks later, one orange and brown butterfly emerged. Its graceful, wet wings slowly fanned out. By the end of the day, all of them had been born.
My butterflies were Painted Ladies, and they were a dazzling amber orange and earthy brown, with white splotches. I gave each a name. A few days later, I released them at dawn. One by one, I let them go. One butterfly had been born with one normal wing and half a wing on the other side. I named him Half Wing, and once I took him out of the habitat and placed him in my hands, he fluttered his little wings and took off. The next summer, I saw tons of Painted Lady butterflies near my house!
I was in school when I found out about Maura. My teacher said, “Maya, you have early dismissal.” I immediately thought something was wrong. My dad had been having back pain, so I thought that might be it. My mom led me to the car, and when we got inside, she said, “Maura’s gone.” My mom had suspected something was wrong because she hadn’t felt Maura kicking. She had gone for an ultrasound and found out that at 23 weeks, Maura had died.
It immediately felt like my world came crashing down. I just cried and cried. I was worried about how my mom and dad felt, since this had happened to them before. I was very sad, and I just slept and slept while my mom had to go to the hospital. When I woke up, I had a lump in my throat, and I felt extremely heavy. I didn’t want to do anything. Day by day, I started feeling a little better. While my mom was recovering, she and I split an apple pie parfait, and I got to crawl into the hospital bed with her. “My miracle baby,” she called me.
I am an only child. But in my heart, Mia and Maura will always be my sisters, although they are not here. I like to think of them as butterflies, playing together and watching out for each other. Like Half Wing, I held them in my heart and hands and let them fly away.