In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the stems of the lilies to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what happened to him. Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation, which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number.-Walter Dudley Cavert, Presbyterian Minister
Rosemary lost her battle to cancer in August of 2015.
My friend was a rare soul, the kind of person who connect meaningfully with just about everyone. On the day she passed, I wrote this on social media. “There are about a million things I love about Rosemary Moore, her abundance of faith, her chortlin’ humor and our shared obsession with the absurdity of all things related to cats. Ironically, I will most miss her ability to navigate life’s sufferings and painful ambiguities with grace and a profound sense of gratitude. On a day like today, she is one of the people I would have most liked to talk to…”
Rosemary had two interests that we definitively did not share. One was her affinity for Thomas Kincaid “art” and the other one was her appreciation for dragonflies. I will never be swayed by the former but the latter has come to mean so much more to me.
Depending on the website or the culture one is referencing, there is no doubt that the dragonfly is a deeply symbolic animal. The insect is prominently seen in iconography of the Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest, usually depicted in a linearly. Often the dragonfly symbolizes transformation or change; it can also explicitly represent death and grief.
In the weeks following Rosemary’s passing, I saw dragonflies everywhere. I tried to rationalize it. They were probably always around but now I was simply noticing. Yet in consulting with random strangers on the internet, I kept hearing a familiar anecdote. Many people who had recently lost a dear loved one suddenly noticed this “swarming” effect of dragonflies around them.
Rosemary was a woman steeped in her Catholic faith; we actually met during graduate studies in theology. I sometimes wonder at the signs that God sends to each of us. Each dragonfly offers me hope that a dear friend is well and very much with me in spirit. That seems about as probable as angel declaring a virgin birth.
To this day, I see a dragonfly and whisper, “Hi Rosemary.”