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A Butterfly Bush


The other day, when I was looking through pet blogs, as I always do, I came across a wonderful idea for how to honor Miss Butterfly: plant something beautiful with her ashes. Mom loved the idea, because she’s a gardener, and she immediately envisioned a pink Butterfly Bush as the appropriate tribute, and found the perfect spot for it, with enough sun, and drainage, and space to grow.

pix from eos 051

My Butterfly

I had to research Butterfly Bushes, of course, and at first I was overwhelmed with articles about the negatives: how Butterfly Bushes are non-native plants, and invasive, and kill off native plants, and kill off insects, and on and on. But I persisted in my reading and found other views, and Mom was adamant that the positives outweigh the negatives.

But I’m still reluctant. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to say goodbye to Butterfly, or when. I don’t want to scatter her ashes too soon, because then I could never get them back. As if I still have her with me, because I still have her ashes. And scattering Miss Butterfly’s ashes here means that she can’t go with me if I ever choose to leave. And if the Butterfly Bush doesn’t survive well, then I won’t have the chance to replant her ashes somewhere else.

I didn’t feel this way when Dina, my black lab mix, died, at sixteen years and two months old. I’d had her for her whole life, minus the first eight weeks, and I saw her through every complicated stage of her development. I had Butterfly for less than five years, and it just wasn’t enough, even though she herself was ready to go.

I think the Butterfly Bush may be the right answer for us, because Miss B loved the backyard here. She loved running up the hill, through mounds of rotting leaves, and then racing back to our front door with her tongue hanging out and her eyes shining. This was her safe place. And she knew it from the first day, when two white butterflies greeted her with their fluttering wings.


I know that I need to have some kind of marker, and ceremony, to say goodbye to Miss B. I know I need to make peace with the loss of my girl. But I still don’t want to say goodbye.

Butterfly's bush

The Butterfly Bush resting at home


If you want to see the post that inspired me:


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

105 responses »

  1. As long as your little girl left love in your soul and beauty in your heart will will never have to say goodbye.

      • The last dog I adopted, Budlore Amadeus, was found tied to an awning at the Lowndes County Humane Society building. Whoever tied him there didn’t have enough leash to allow his feet to fully touch the ground nor could he sit comfortably or lie down. Now, these people *meant* well. They didn’t dump him in the middle of nowhere and they didn’t sell him to dog fighters.

        The shelter was going to put him down for being aggressive but I didn’t see it. I saw that he was really freaked out over being hanged, and his heart was broken because his family left him. I was a foster, but became an adopter, Bud came home with me.

        But here’s where I’m going with this; You did it right. You gave a little dog an exemplary life, and you raised the bar for our species in how we love and care for our pets, and even in death, Butterfly meant something to you, and there’s dozens of people touched by this story.

        You mean well, and that’s important, that a person’t heart be true, but you also know how to turn that into a good life for your animals. That’s incredible. As someone who works Rescue, it’s people like you who most give me hope. Thank you.

        Take Care,

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