My mom Diane Todd Yates was born on the 4th of July and died on Christmas. When she died, I was nowhere close to ready to have a memorial for her. I wouldn’t even bring her ashes into my house.
The ashes lived in my Jeep for six months and drove around town with me and my daughter. I was steaming mad at how irrational Mom had become towards the end of her life and I felt badly hurt.
Our last months together were beyond challenging. Mental illnesses took over her life and we did not have a future together on the path that she was going. When she was physically alive, she hurt me while she was hurting inside. She let her body die and left me standing in the ashes of her destruction. It was a mess. So when she physically died, I was not in a place to celebrate her life.
It took 7 months for me to give her a proper memorial. Eventually, I picked Echo Lake as her final physical resting place for a number of reasons that were special to her. Now I know waiting until I was ready was all for the best. This entire experience has taught me to trust God’s timing.
The day of the memorial was magical. It was the first day of this new, spiritual relationship with my Mom and it was out of this world! While we were honoring her, thousands of blue dragonflies were dancing all around us. No one there had experienced anything like it! It was a very fitting scene to honor my Mom, because she had been obsessed with faeries since childhood. Dragonflies are the closest thing to real, actual faeries! If I held her memorial in December, the dragonflies would have never been there to greet us.
Two months later, I was on a fall leaves motorcycle tour in New England and found myself with a lot of time to think while riding on the back of a motorcycle. I purchased this dream trip with my inheritance from my Mom’s estate. Part of me felt bad that I was using her hard earned money to enjoy my life. She didn’t get to use it for what she wanted, after all. I sent a silent wish up to my mom, asking her to send a sign that everything was ok with us, that I could move on from where we left off.
In less than an hour I got my sign. We stopped for lunch and I was sitting outside chatting with the owners of the motorcycle touring company when I was interrupted. The female owner of the company eagerly pointed out that a dragonfly was sitting on my left shoulder. There she was. My relationship with my Mom started rebuilding from that point on.
It is incredibly difficult to explain to someone how you can go from a terrible mother-daughter relationship before death to feeling a close mother-daughter bond in her afterlife.
I know she is sorry. I can just feel it. Her mind is clear now. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been and she’s waiting for me. Love doesn’t die. She hasn’t left me and I know she is looking over my family like an angel. I feel her presence when she sends me signs. I see dragonflies…Every. Single. Day!
I really should track my dragonfly sightings, but it would get too time consuming. In the cold months, I see them in the form of a picture or decor in the most random public places. I’ll look over to the car next to me and see a dragonfly charm hanging down. Or, like yesterday, there was a size XXL dragonfly shirt mixed in with the smaller shirts that I was looking at on the rack at Goodwill. I’ll look down and see a dragonfly tattoo on the foot of a woman at church. In the summer months, I see real dragonflies…and often! They land on my car. They land on me. They land by my kids. One flew into my husband’s face. They zoom around my home… they didn’t do that before her death. I’ve seen one in a library book that I’m reading to my daughter Annie. I’ll be having a rough day and one will pop up at the perfect time. It’s my mom’s way of saying “I’m here and I love you”. I’ve even accidentally run over one with my running stroller and it still flew away! Dragonflies are resilient little critters.
I’ve created something special with my daughter. I’ve created the relationship I wish I had with my mom.
I’ve taught Annie about the importance of the dragonfly. My son John will be clued in when he’s older. We get so excited when we see them together. My relationship with my Mom has influenced my relationship with my kids in a positive way. I invest a lot of time in making positive memories with them. I choose to learn from the bad experiences I had and channel them into good by living the life with my kids that I wish I had with her. I am very careful of what my children are exposed to, because I personally know it will stick with them in these impressionable years. I am bound and determined to provide a loving, safe home for our kids.
My biggest fear is how much it is going to hurt Annie and John when I am gone. My mom started out amazing and later turned into a marginal mom; still, I miss her terribly regardless of how our relationship ended. The dragonfly will be my sign to my family in my afterlife. In our family, dragonflies will forever be a sign of an unfailing love.
Every July, I go back to Echo Lake with my kids to experience the magic of the dragonflies and feel closer to Mom. And this year, on Mother’s Day, I decided to make a permanent reminder of where the first dragonfly landed, on my left shoulder. It’s my reminder that my mom is waiting for me. And it’s my reminder that, no matter the ups and downs it puts you through, love never dies.
Laura Woodworth is a Golden, CO native that ended up marrying the boy who picked on her in sixth grade. These days they are busy collecting moments and living the dream with their adventurous son and daughter.