Hello sweet boy, One day last month, we were on our way out the door and found a butterfly lying on our doormat. It looked like it had just landed for a moment, but I soon realized it wasn't alive. The night before had been a cold one (for Florida) and I think maybe it was too much for the little guy. You were very interested, and I carefully picked it up and let you hold it. The way you so gently cradled the tiny creature, and the concern and fascination with which you looked at it, made you seem much more mature than your years. You wondered why he couldn't fly, and I wondered, as I have before, how much a four year old can understand, and how to explain the harder parts of life. You accepted somberly that he had died. You've had very little experience of death so far, but you know for the most part what it means.
You held the butterfly a little longer and then we placed him on the corner of our deck and continued with our day. But I'll never forget the compassion in your eyes. My hope is that you never lose that gentleness, and that you'll aways have a place in your heart for even the smallest creatures. This butterfly mattered to you. You innately know, at four, that life is sacred. Many people forget this as they age, and the widespread suffering and death in the world become normal. But the commonness of it doesn't make it matter less. Compassion and gentleness are forms of love, and love is the only thing that can even begin to make all of that bad parts of life okay. I know you have these in you, and therefore have the ability to make this crazy world just a little bit more okay too.
You are going to do great things, my love. I am in awe of who you are.
Next in this circle of photographers writing to our children is the talented Elaine Melko. Each month, I am in awe of the creativity and love in this wonderful group.