So, I had a change of plans for my Manteca trip last week.
I was able to meet a friend from my online website, http://www.myCOPDteam.com, and while I talked way too much, we had a good time and it was lovely to meet in person. (In person meetings are always challenging, because you want to like this person in real life, but it’s easy to be appear to be more than you are while living online and throwing two cents over the internet fence to the other person).
So, despite my friend from Oregon cancelling her trip, I went ahead with the “staycation” in Manteca to both meet my online friend, as well as spend time with the boyfriend / FWB (whatever else you want to call a friend with whom you share physical relations and mental compatibility but don’t want to chain each other down). While enjoying the outdoor pool (despite the smoke-filled air), I was haunted / pestered / enthralled by 2-3 HUGE dragonflies hovering and dipping over the pool, and going back and forth among the crepe myrtle trees nearby.
(It could have been worse – those flowers usually attract a bunch of bees!).
But, I tell you all that to tell you this – I’m not one to believe in spirituality. I mean, it’s nice to believe all the symbolism that’s out there, but I have zip for preconceived notions as I’m more literal. I have to be able to see, feel and touch something in order to believe in it. Otherwise, it’s just another daydream or fantasy without a foot in reality.
In this case, I realized that I forgot my boyfriend’s stuff, forgot my fishing rod, and yet was still determined to make a nice couple hours over two days for driving to and from Manteca and hopefully going fishing while I was out and about. So, I spent money I didn’t have to get another folding fishing rod. And accessories. All with money that I didn’t have because I’m trying to do what I’m supposed to, and get on top of my taxes. Playing catchup costs big $$$. So I cut my trip by 3 days (from 4 down to 1), and I reduced expenses where I could.
But, the swimming pool was included in the deal, so there was no harm going out by the pool and trying to get in a workout. Ehhh… the pool was too shallow and too cold, but it was certainly refreshing, and I enjoyed drying off in the setting sun.
But, those dragonflies !
So happy. So busy. I came home and had to look up their meaning, they were so enthralling:
“Dragonfly Spirit Animal”
The totem of a dragonfly carries a sense of identity. It ensures the virtue of living freely.
It unmasks the real personality that lies dormant within each individual. They remove any element that is not a part of real life. Often, people suffer from self-doubt. That may hinder their ability to move ahead. Here, a dragonfly urges people to get rid of their doubts and live life fully.
A “wonder animal” is the spirit animal of the dragonfly. It also represents the purity of being. The spirit animal urges people to take chances and realize the potential within them. It helps them understand that they can fully realize their potential. Many mystic people consider a dragonfly to be a messenger from the spirit guides. Their purpose is to real the magical path to people.
So, looking back over the past week, I began to wonder if there was more spirituality in the world than I was willing to accept. We’ll never know, but…
The boyfriend’s foster son was killed about 1:30am on Thursday morning, and I saw dragonflies everywhere while I was traveling to Manteca, as well as later, when I was by the pool. While I wasn’t part of his life directly, I am hoping for the boyfriend’s sake that J is happy and at peace.
As for me, I’m used to dragonflies as delicate insects, graceful, and relatively hard to spot unless you’re sitting still and looking for them. Certainly, very hard to photograph (at least, for me). So, while I don’t have a picture of what I was seeing, these mack truck sized dragonflies were like nothing I’d ever seen before, and they were flying up into the sun (making identification difficult, never mind photography), and they were playfully skittering all around the pool, joying in the afternoon.
Why do I tell you this? No idea. But, with the loss of the foster son from my boyfriend’s life, it seems like his young life should have much more meaning in retrospect than it does in reality.
J and his sister, G, came from a troubled background. They entered their Uncle’s life full time when when were 5 and 7-ish, respectively. Their other aunt was unable to foster or adopt the kids after they were taken away from their drug addicted parents (who later died). For whatever reason, Auntie (hereafter called “Grandma” in their story) could not adopt them out of the foster care system without two (2) years of training and related certifications. (Don’t ask me this part – I’m just telling you what I was told).
Anyway… Boyfriend was allowed to foster them for those same two (2) years while Grandma did what she needed to do to become their adoptive parent. I think they would have been better staying with him, however… He felt that they deserved a woman’s touch, and she was an actual relative, so he gave them up when it was time for them to be adopted and moved into her care.
The kids didn’t have an easy life, despite everyone’s best efforts once they were removed from the care of their parents. People are messy. Kids are the worst, when it comes to being messy and making life difficult.
Parent’s rule households with different styles.
Whatever it was, the kids were a handful and everyone did their best for them.
Sadly “Grandma” was a fire and brimstone Christian, who believed that “God’s gonna get ya!” was a legitimate parenting style, despite her training to the contrary, and both kids rebelled. The boyfriend kept seeing them after he was no longer their full time custodian, and that raised other issues with the Grandmother, who was all about controlling the kids and wrapping them up tightly in the supposed teachings of Jesus.
By the time they were teenagers, they could do nothing right and were on restriction more often than not.
The boyfriend did what he could, but after he was no longer of use to her, and wouldn’t discipline the kids for things she considered outrageous infractions of her rules, he was cut out of their lives, too. For the most part. But, the kids would not tolerate that further change in their living circumstances. Despite all the forbids and restrictions, Grandma would still call on the boyfriend to be her problem solver when the kids got too much for her to deal with and handle.
By the time they were teenagers, they were counting the hours until they were old enough to leave their Grandmother’s house. G worked all hours known to teenagers, saving every cent she made, so that she was ready to leave her Grandmother’s house as soon as she was 18, even if that meant leaving her younger brother behind, and living with a girlfriend’s family in order to graduate high school, things were so hostile.
While everyone worries about kids, they were both good teens, and the boyfriend was still involved in their lives.
G and J both moved in with the boyfriend as soon as they were legal (or, Grandma agreed to give up custody of the boy, because she could no longer control his behavior to her satisfaction). I’ve only heard it second hand, but that woman has a tongue on her that can cut the strongest heart to ribbons. Sad, but that’s her version of how best to handle others and raise kids.
At any rate, I tell you all that to tell you this. The kids were doing well. G had married her high school sweetheart, whose family she loves and is loved by, and she’s following him from military base to military base as his postings evolve. They are currently in Kentucky, where they appear happy. She’s trained as a paramedic, and is seeking additional training to make her more employable as her husband’s postings evolve and they get reassigned by the powers-that-be in the military to other states and locations. They are enjoying the adventure of their lives together, exploring new places to live, and appear to be a solid couple with good heads on their shoulders despite their youth.
J was still struggling against growing up, but he was working, he was helping the boyfriend, his Uncle, out with caring for his mother (who has dementia and lives with him), and at 19 was a good kid if a bit immature. All things as it should be for each of them for their ages.
So, 14 years after these kids enter the boyfriend’s life full time, the boy dies. He’s only 19. While we know drugs and alcohol were NOT involved from the initial reports from the accident scene, (so thankful about this bit of news), he was apparently driving too fast, no seat belt, and took the exit ramp off the highway too fast, losing control of his car and losing his life through carelessness.
I prefer to think of J enjoying the warm Summer night, radio up loud, as he was cruising along the highway.
Sadly, the boyfriend never saw this heartbreaking news coming. We were together that night, and as he was packing up to get back home, because “J needs to go to work, and I can’t leave my Mom alone”, when he found out that not only was J already dead, hours earlier, but that he was mistaken in his belief that he’d heard his foster son come in around midnight, and that he’d missed him going out again that night, if he’d actually come home at all.
It’s never easy to lose someone you love. But losing someone so young is especially hard.
As for me, I’m only on the periphery of the boyfriend’s life, so I’m trying to be available while also not being underfoot (because we don’t have that kind of relationship). If the dragonflies were a realistic symbol of J’s spirit animal, then I hope that he is happy and enjoying whatever the next life has to offer. That kid had a tough life, despite everyone’s intention to fix it for him so that he could thrive and be all that he could be as he grew. I hope he’s happy and at peace.
It was hard to be there when the boyfriend had to figure out all the duty calls he had to make, once the police contacted him. Nothing was sadder than listening to him break the news to J’s sister. She answered the phone happy to talk to her Uncle, and then had her heart broken, again, with yet another tragedy in her young life.
I wish that they weren’t in Kentucky, so that the boyfriend was there to comfort her, but I know her own husband will be the rock she needs during this difficult time. It’s never easy to get those calls. I’m not sure if the kids were raised in the Greek Orthodox version of the Christian faith, but I hope the boyfriend’s faith helps him through this very difficult time. It’s just wrong to be burying a child you helped raise. Even if it was an accident. Even if it was just one of those stupid things that happens in life. If a dragonfly is truly joy which urges people to live their lives fully, I hope that’s what J is doing on whatever plane may come next after this life.