One-hundred Monarch butterflies lifted spirits as they fluttered skyward during the second annual butterfly release at Cabarrus Memorial Gardens, on N.C. 73 at Cold Springs Road.Early civilizations saw butterflies as signs of good luck, and Native American legends tell of butterflies carrying various wishes to the Great Spirit.Some today believe butterflies are messengers sent from loved ones who have died.Whatever their beliefs, more than 100 people gathered to release butterflies on an overcast windy Saturday morning in Concord.The owners of Cabarrus Memorial Gardens, Mary Connaughty-Sullivan and her husband, Dan Sullivan, began the ceremony. Dan told the crowd how he came to believe in the insect/human connection.After the loss of her mother, Margaret Connaughty, in December 2006, Mary said noticed she was seeing more butterflies than usual and confided to Dan that she thought it was her mother’s spirit visiting.The two had many other butterfly encounters over the years, but Dan was still unconvinced. Then, in 2010, after their 20-year-old son, Aaron Paton, died in a car accident, Dan began to understand the bond.“Shortly after the funeral for our son Aaron, I went to visit his grave,” he said. “As I sat there, a butterfly, representing Mary’s mom, landed on one leg, and then a dragonfly, representing Aaron, landed on my other leg, both resting there for a while.” He said he felt as though the two insects’ landing on him at the same time was a nudge from “the other side.”The couple still gets visits from both insects, reassuring them that they have an ongoing bond with their lost loved ones.Wanting to help others, the Sullivans bought the cemetery at N.C. 73 East and Cold Springs Road in February 2012, renaming it Cabarrus Memorial Gardens. Reaching out to the community, they held their first butterfly release Sept. 22, 2012.“Everything we do here is to help other people through this grieving process,” Mary said. “We want to help them heal.”The butterflies are shipped and held in dark boxes with dry ice inside behind the lining, to keep them cool and in a semidormant state. Once they warm up, they start scratching the box to get out, and they fly away when the box is opened.Some butterflies, still a little cold, will land and stay as they warm up or gather nectar for energy before they fly away. Each $10 ticketholder received a Monarch butterfly in a small triangular box, a butterfly charm, and had their loved one’s name read aloud during the ceremony.Five-year-old Hayden Barrier held the small triangular box to his ear, hearing the Monarch inside scratching. Caleb Brohman, 10, of Kannapolis tried to peek inside to see the butterfly he was going to release in honor of his great-grandfather Dennis Blackenship, as each loved one’s name was read aloud.As the crowd rose to release the butterflies, 78-year-old Bea Barber of Concord fumbled a little with the box. She was releasing this butterfly in honor of her mother, Margaret Caldwell, who died in June 2010.Barber gave out a gasp of joy as the Monarch fluttered from the box and circled her head before rising and catching the breeze skyward. Barber happily exclaimed, “This is the first (butterfly release) I have ever been to. I love butterflies. They are the prettiest creatures on earth, and I am so glad I was invited to come.”Releasing a butterfly in honor of her grandmother Dorothy Kieger, 18-year-old Sara Siebert let the Monarch land on her hair and stay for a while.Among the stories and tears, there were also smiles as the Monarchs fluttered away, carrying their healing messages to the missing loved ones.For more information on Cabarrus Memorial Gardens, visit www.cabarrusmemorialgardens.com/index.html or call 704-793-1600.
Tuesday, Oct. 01, 2013
Butterflies released at east Concord cemetery lift spirits in memory of loved ones
Marty Price is a freelance photographer and writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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