It was an emotional afternoon at KinVillage’s Assisted Living building, where seven residents released butterflies outside as a symbol of transition and rebirth from the darkest days of the pandemic.
Just before 2 p.m. on July 30, seven residents and Brian Winger, the recreation coordinator for Assisted Living at KinVillage, gathered on the patio with little white boxes containing the Painted Lady butterflies.
And on the count of three, they opened their boxes and released the seven brilliantly-coloured butterflies into the summer sun as residents watched from the air-conditioned lounge.
“It took everything in me not to cry,” said Winger following the release. “I wish I could have given them all [a butterfly] to release. If I had my way, I would have had like 30, 40 butterflies.”
KinVillage was participating in an initiative by the B.C. Care Providers Association and EngAge B.C. to commemorate those they’ve lost to COVID-19, while also acknowledging and appreciating those who are still here today.
Before and after the release, Winger and residents recalled what their building has gone through throughout the many phases of the pandemic and acknowledged how strong and resilient they all were to make it to this point.
“We went through different stages, like what a butterfly went through in its life, but today, we’re here together as survivors. We’re here as a family. Yes, we lost three of our dear souls, our family members, but we’re very fortunate that we lost only three,” said Winger to the residents. “We can, today, still have their memories with us, we can live thinking about them and cherishing the memories that we had with them. Such as a butterfly goes through many stages, so have we.”
Tiny Wolfe, one of the residents who released a Painted Lady, read a poem by Jill Haley before the group of seven went outside.
“As you release this butterfly in honor of me, know that I’m with you and always will be. Hold a hand, say a prayer, close your eyes and see me there. Although you may feel a bit torn apart, please know that I’ll be forever in your heart. Now fly away butterfly, as high as you can go, I’m right there with you, more than you will ever know,” she recited.
The KinVillage butterfly release was concluded with hand-decorated butterfly shaped cookies, iced tea and time for residents and staff to chat amongst themselves in the lounge.