Winding down the year......

2013 has not been one of my favorite years for several reasons and I know a handful of people who would agree. 
It's been a year of personal lessons and loss and although I have grown, it hasn't been easy with all of the transitions. 
2013 has been a year when I've come to realize my own strengths as well as those around me:
children, siblings, parents....
  Sometimes it takes circumstances that literally knock us to our knees to see
who we are,
what we are made of
what we can become.

I lost a brother this year. 
He was my littlest brother.
My sweet, little Jack. 
He came into the world with some challenges......
a heart condition from birth. 
This made his life a bit more difficult than most. 
As he grew into an adult he had even more challenges.
As a family, we placed him in hospice in September
hoping for the best
realizing the worse. 
Jack passed away surrounded by family on October 4, 2013. 
On the morning of October 4th,
I knew that this was his last day.
When I received a text from my other brother, Joe stating
"it's getting close"
I felt compelled to go sit on these stairs,
and wait until I heard more. 
That place was here.
If this looks familiar to you it's because I used
this picture before in my blog. 
This is  Lake Michigan, near my home.
It was on these steps that I sat
I waited  
until Jack died.
I didn't know why I chose this place until days later. 
After I heard he was gone I just sat there watching the waves in silence thinking about our lives together.   
A tiny, white butterfly flew toward me, flittered around my head then away. 
As I watched the butterfly, I thought that is a symbol for Jack.
I called my daughters, Allie and Sophie to let them know.
Sophie was at school.  It hasn't been an easy year for her and although I want to shield and protect
every little part of her, I had to give the news when it happened.
It was only right.
That afternoon I picked her up from school and I told her about going to Lake Michigan
when Jack passed and about the butterfly. 
When we came home there were dozens of small,
white butterflies in the back yard.
Tiny, white angels.
Earlier, I mentioned that I didn't know why I went to the stairs. 
Last November 6, 2012
I wrote a post called
"Stairways, Paths and Embracing Change." 
I quote from the post:

"The stairs represent transition – a way of getting from one stage to another.  I (personally) often stumble on stairs.  I’ve even broken my foot falling down stairs and I’ve been known to trip up them as well.  A “stair” can take us from one plane to another.  It’s symbolic – they can bring us higher to our destiny or lower to our destination.  It seems my norm is to stumble when making the transition."

I've often referred to death as "transition."
But it's important to note the date of the post.
November 6th was Jack's birthday. 

Thank you, little brother, for bringing me comfort when I need it.
I will always love you, remember you and cherish the time we had together.

To all....
Happy Holidays.
Keep those important to you close. 
Be present.
Be kind.
Cherish life.