And Then There Are Dragonflies.
By Jerre Peterson
(Jerre’s 12-year-old daughter, Audrey died April 5, 2000, a month after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Part of Jerre’s healing comes through putting his experiences since Audrey’s death to print.)
And then there are dragonflies.
Many of the wonderful signs I believe I’ve been given by Audrey are perhaps to let me know she is ok. Is heaven a place where we go where we can be anything we want? Is heaven a place where all those that leave the earth meet and share their experiences, their loves, their dreams? Have some of these little messages been delivered to me by the dragonflies?
Not long after Audrey was gone, I would say within 4 weeks of her passing, I started to dig. I started to excavate my backyard with shovel in hand. I know while I dug the time seemed not to hurt so painfully so I kept on digging. I was going to dig myself to the center of the earth. I don’t know, maybe subconsciously I was digging my way to hell to see if this is where indeed the Devil lay. Surely the Devil had a lot to do with the death of my child. Instead I dug a hole some 60 feet long 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
Before too long this hole became the liner of one of the most beautiful projects I had ever created. It turn out to be 2 Koi ponds, and the first inhabitants were Audrey’s aquarium fish. Surely she would love looking down from the heavens and she would enjoy admiring her beautiful fish swimming freely in such a beautiful creation. And surely she would love knowing I was taking care of her fish with all the love and protection I once gave her.
Over several months I moved 50 PLUS yards of earth and hauled in several thousand pounds of cobblestone and slate, I learned how to plumb and how to electrify. I read books on masonry, plumbing, and Koi fish and learned how to care for these fish in the harshest of seasons. Nothing was going to stop me from building a home for Audrey’s fish, a home that would allow them to live their lives to the fullest. Before summer ended and the project was finished I had created two attaching ponds. I did this so that if one pond became contaminated I could transport the fish into the other while I treated the sick one. I created a water fall that would trickle into both ponds and a pump system that would allow them both to maintain equal water levels, yet give them both a beautiful look and sustain them both with life giving oxygen. Surely someone was lending me a hand from the heavens.
These two ponds started to harvest frogs on their own and Audrey’s fish were growing faster then anyone could imagine. I started to plant water plants throughout them and even they were multiplying faster than I could give them away. The water hyacinths during this first summer grew literally several thousand plants. Weekly I transported two hundred plants at a time down to my golf club where the owners let me fill the ponds around the sixth and ninth greens. The growth in these ponds alone was becoming quite a chore, but I was loving it because the work kept me busy and my mind occupied.
During the summer I came home one day early from the office and my wife was having a sad afternoon recalling some of the summer days she and Audrey spent together. When I arrived home she was sitting in the backyard with my youngest daughter staring into the pond with her eyes glassed over. Obviously she had been crying. We talked as I reached over into the pond to flip the leaf of a lilly pad onto its proper side, when all of a sudden a dragonfly landed on the outside palm of my hand. In an amazing few seconds I thanked the dragonfly for coming to visit and it even allowed me to softly brush its tiny wings, then I gently blew on her wings and thanked Audrey for the visit and asked her of she would return soon. The dragonfly then flew away gracefully. Julie, Cherie and I had a quiet conversation on the possibilities of this ever happening again, and whether or not it might have been Audrey herself visiting us to remove some of the sorrow we were having. Then within an hour this beautiful blue green dragonfly returned again, this time landing on the lilly pad I had been working on earlier. And again, she let me gently brush her wings. I swear this had to be one of the most special moments in my entire life. I knew without any doubt in my mind that this indeed was a gift from the heavens. But something as strange as this, we had doubt, who wouldn’t?
Later that evening I drove to Home Depot for some plumbing supplies. There at the corner where I needed to turn into the lot was a white van. On the back of the van was a sticker of a green leaf that sort of looked like a maple leaf, and there on the leaf was the dragonfly again. I arrived home later and spoke with my family regarding the incident and the dragonfly being now many miles from home. It was indeed special to us.
The next evening my youngest daughter wanted to go to the golf course and hit some golf balls. I thought it would be a good idea to get out, so we went off and there on the range as we were hitting golf balls, Cherie, my 7yr old yells out in her screechy little voice “Dad, she is back.” And sure enough, 24 hours later, this dragonfly was back and flying around me and Cherie.
Later that same evening, a friend that I had not seen in several years came over to greet us. As we stood there talking face to face I heard this buzzing right next to my ear. David, my friend in all his amazement said to me that there was a dragonfly hovering next to my ear. Cherie and I just looked at each other and laughed and wondered.
A few weeks later I was invited to play in the Ronald McDonald House golf tournament, “Brian’s Bash”, with the host being from the Portland Trailblazers. This had to be the most significant day of all the dragonfly sightings. I was playing with one of Oregon’s premier amateurs, Denny Taylor, and Bill Shonley, the former voice of the Blazers, along with a team member from my golf club. I was asked about mydaughter’s illness and that led to my sharing with them the amazing stories of the dragonfly. As I told the story they sat in their cart next to ours and it was apparent I was losing their attention when all of a sudden, the man sitting next to me in the cart was overcome with amazement when he notices the green blue dragonfly that landed on my knee and sat there for the remainder of the story.
One evening, as the summer was about to end Cherie and I went out to the club to play a few holes and just for fun, drive the cart around. As we drove around the course that evening our dragonfly followed us the complete distance.
Never before in my life have I experienced so many sightings of these beautiful creatures as I have since Audrey’s death. Dragonflies now have become a large part of our lives and whenever one appears, I simply say, “Hello my beautiful Audrey. “
P.S. – Audrey’s fish survived all of Oregon’s changing weather and are the most beautiful of all the fish we have added since creating the ponds. Currently our ponds house over forty beautiful Koi and more are expected. We have been honored to watch our fish this past summer give birth to their babies. The weather in Oregon leaves the water a murky brown through the winter months so I am eagerly awaiting spring and cleaning out the silt to see how they have grown.
U R Loved,