I'll admit, I've been trying to write this post for weeks. And I'll admit, I've started this multiple times today. I'm fairly certain that this is so difficult for me to say because my brain wants to do anything but think about this and thus keeps finding distractions.
Nina loved butterflies. She loved to go to the butterfly place and watch them all noodle about. From the amazing colors of their wings to the beautiful details that made up their shapes, Nina could see and appreciate all their beauty. It was only fitting then that we did a memorial for her at the butterfly place.
I hadn't been since I was very very little and I'll admit, I was overwhelmed. I'm not a big fan of insects, but I do find butterflies beautiful. But maybe beautiful from a distance, not fluttering past my face oh so closely. We released two beautiful blue butterflies in honor of Nina. I remember thinking that I should say something, but I simply did not have any words and I was choking on all the emotions I was trying not to feel. It was a beautiful moment and I know Nina would have loved to see those little blue butterflies.
One year later, I found myself back at the butterfly place with some of the other girls who grew up at the rescue. I still didn't have the words for all the emotions I was still trying not to feel, but it wasn't lost on me that the butterflies that landed on me were ones with blue wings. After all, Nina's favorite color was always blue.
I've come to realize that in this past year, there has been so much growth at the rescue and I am beyond grateful for everyone who has helped drive it forwards. I've realized that I have been so focused on running from one thing to the next, I never have given myself time to grieve. And like anything you ignore for too long, grief will find a way to pop up like a wall when you're going 80mph with no warning. For me it happened a couple weeks back when I played a new song while driving to the barn. I had no idea what I was expecting from the song, but it wasn't the soul shattering moment that I had. The song put into words all the things I had been avoiding thinking about for the last year. I never imagined Nina dying ever. She was our fearless leader, it just wasn't possible. I didn't know how much I would miss her voice, her ability to see directly through me and know when something was hurting me, and her fierce support.
So many moments I have wanted to talk to her, to hear her unapologetic spirit again. One of the days where I wanted nothing more than to talk to Nina her brother, Jimmy, showed up to the rescue with snacks for Blaze and cupcakes for me. Decorating the chocolate cupcakes were butterfly rings. I nearly cried when I saw all those little butterflies. I still have one in my car to remind me. The day I found that song and felt likey whole world had been rattled, I saw a butterfly floating by in one of the paddocks. It was just like the marbled one I saw last year and wished Nina could see because it was all her favorite colors.
In the past year, I have come to understand that while I have lost more than I ever want to think about, I have loved more than I will ever have the words for and that is the ultimate gift.