Jim had told me this day would come, and I was both sad and excited. I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep them forever, locked up in a jar like that, but I had watched them transform from fat little caterpillars to beautiful butterflies and I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
Up until this point, I’d always been able to protect them from harm. Who would keep them safe, now? Where would they find food and warmth? Was all this effort in vain?
A tear rolled down my face as they started floating away, one by one, into the sky and towards whatever future they would have. Jim turned around and looked at me with a semi-sad expression, but he didn’t say anything. He just turned back around and continued to encourage them out of the jar.
I let out a sigh. Maybe this wouldn’t be the end. Maybe they wouldn’t wander too far away from the only home they’d ever known.
When the last one flew away Jim turned to me and said, “Just think, maybe in a few months they’ll come leave their babies here with us, and we’ll get to raise their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren…”
“I sure hope so, Jim” I said, as I took his hand. We walked back to the barn in silence and when we arrived, there she was just sitting there. A tiny white kitten with a broken tail.
“Well,” Jim said, “That ought to keep you busy in the meantime.”