This Story has Wings – A Butterfly Story

October 2022

The rooms on our Hospice Residences are designed with patients and families in mind, with the goal of making our Hospice feel like home. This also means that we invite and encourage patients and families to decorate rooms, drop off mementos and gifts, and fill shelves and tables with whatever makes their room feel most home-like.

Recently, Linda, a resident at our Erie Shores Campus was given a lovely, living gift from her sister-in-law – a small branch on which rested two perfect Monarch butterfly cocoons, waiting to be “born.”

The cocoons looked like tiny jeweled ornaments, both of them a lovely jade green, with delicate gold embellishments. Linda’s sister-in-law is a self-identified “butterfly enthusiast,” and she thought this was the perfect gift to share in Linda’s room.

Whenever any of our Hospice Team stopped by the room, everyone kept a bit of an eye on the cocoons. Anticipation grew as they watched one of them become more and more transparent as the transition of the butterfly inside became more evident.

“The chrysalis starts out an almost jewel-like solid green and gold, but then becomes sort of black and slightly transparent as the butterfly gets closer to coming out into the world,” says Linda. She has clearly learned a lot from her sister-in-law, who has released more than 200 butterflies throughout her lifelong involvement with these amazing creatures.

One day, our Hospice physician, Dr. Trish Valcke, was on rounds. When Dr. Valcke stopped in to see Linda she noticed some motion from the butterfly branch. Everyone in the room stopped to watch – they were so amazed to be witness to the “birth” of the butterfly.

“It took a while for it to completely shed the chrysalis skin, and then it hung on the branch, just breathing and doing the traditional ‘drying’ process for its wings,” explains Linda. After several hours, they could see the beautiful Monarch butterfly wing colours and patterns emerge as the wings dried.

Linda was so happy that Dr. Valcke had been there to see the butterfly emerge, and she immediately christened it “Trish” in her honour.

“After a few hours, we took both Linda and the butterfly branch outside onto the patio,” says Angie, our Hospice PSW. “As soon as the butterfly was out in the sunshine and warmth, you could almost see it stretch and start to flutter its wings.”

“We were so happy to see Trish the butterfly’s first tentative flutters, and then watch it take flight and soar out into the beautiful Erie Shores gardens,” said Linda. “It makes me so happy to know that I’ve left this small part of our lives here at Hospice, with all of you.”