Sunday, September 18, 2016

The symbolism of dragonflies

Recently, my husband and I suffered another miscarriage. We hadn’t made the announcement public yet so many of you didn’t know we were pregnant. I feel the need to share my loss with everyone so others know that they do not need to go through a loss alone. This loss was similar to our past losses as well as new. My pregnancy had warning signs that something was wrong and I couldn’t get anyone from my doctor’s office or the clinic to pay attention until it was too late. The strange thing is during the last month, my apartment complex has a swarm of dragonflies. I wasn’t sure where they were coming from and I’ve never seen them around our area in a very long time. Then suddenly they were gone!

Then one August night, I had a dream where I held a baby named Angel and I was in a place that I didn’t recognize. I woke up with a sense of foreboding that renewed my resolve to find out what was going on. When I finally was able to get someone to listen and set a doctor’s appointment for me, the doctor confirmed my worst fear, my baby was gone. He or she died at 8 weeks gestation (three weeks prior!). As my practice with my babies, I chose a name and an animal which I pick to associate with them. For this baby, I chose Angel as it was in my dream and the dragonfly because it was so prevalent in recent weeks. Then a good friend of mine informed me that she had a dream that included me being surrounded by dragonflies! I was curious about the symbolism of the dragonfly and what I found astonished me.

The myth surrounding dragonflies is that dragons of ancient days transformed themselves into today’s dragonflies. To the Japanese Samurai, the dragonfly symbolizes power, agility and victory. In Ancient China, they symbolize harmony, prosperity and a good luck charm. To the Native Americans of the Plains, the dragonflies symbolizes happiness, speed and purity. In some Native American cultures, the dragonfly symbolizes the flight of departed souls. To the Ancient Mayans, the dragonfly symbolizes creativity. Only the Europeans and Australians (via British colonization) have negative images of the dragonfly. They are called the witch’s tool and that Satan sent it to earth to cause chaos, confusion and punishment. I also looked into what others view the dragonfly as a spirit or totem animal. It helped me see more of the beautiful of this wonderful creature. There are three main themes of symbolism of the dragonfly as a totem animal: change and transformation, power and adaptability, and lightness and emotional flexibility.

First, dragonflies symbolize change and transformation. They symbolize the wisdom of when it’s time to change, to transform. Their transformations through their life cycles has come to symbolize the change in perspective. To symbolize a change in mental and emotional maturity and an understanding of a deeper meaning in life. I see the dragonflies as a reminder to appreciate every moment of the miracles in what we call life. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. Life isn’t about the stuff you buy, the stuff you accumulate. It is about the people you surround yourself with. The husband who works hard for the home you build together. The daughter who loves to hug you and tell you she loves you. The mom who would give her last dollar if you truly needed it. The brother and sister who would drop everything to come to your aid at your most desperate times. And the friend who lends an ear when you need to vent, offers a new perspective when you can’t see the forest for the trees, and simply loves you for you. These are the true treasures of life.

Second, dragonflies symbolize power and adaptability. Since dragonflies can fly in any direction, they have come to symbolize the ability to adapt and tackle life situations from difference angles. The dragonfly has adapted to have amazing eyesight. Its eyes can see in 360 degrees and 80 percent of its brain power is devoted to its eyes. The power and adaptability of the dragonfly’s eyes have come to symbolize the opening of one’s eyes and to see beyond the mundane. I see myself in the symbolism of adaptability. I have gone through most of my life with plans not quite working out. I think of myself to be great when it comes to adapting when situations change quickly. Although, I will admit that I will resist at first and try to bring it back to the plan I had in place. However, I will quickly realize that it isn’t always possible. I see dragonflies as the symbol of the ability to stop on a dime and assess the situation, adjust if needed and continue on.

Third, dragonflies symbolize lightness and emotional flexibility. With the iridescence of their wings, dragonflies symbolize being a light in even the darkest moments. This lightness can be in the form of one’s thoughts and feelings. To keep a light and positive outlook no matter what. Even in my darkest moments, I find myself finding the silver lining so to speak. None of the doctors I saw during my miscarriage said my husband and I couldn’t try again. It gives me hope that I may still be able to bring another baby into the world. The only few negative comments about trying again were from people who never suffered a miscarriage and the emptiness that you feel. The desire for a child only grows more intense after pregnancy losses. I also learned that I am not one to easily give up. When my confidence has been low, I would quit and be filled with regret later that I didn’t keep trying. So I’m not going to quit until God or my body tells me enough’s enough.

As I researched dragonflies and saw myself in these symbols, I was curious about the other symbols I had chosen for my babies. For AJ, I chose a bumblebee simply because a playful bee is depicted on the last ultrasound I have of him/her. I was shocked and pleased to discover the symbolism of the bumblebee. Bumblebees are a symbol or reminder to trust in miracles! And I do, I believe in miracles. Even when logic and the world around you says “no way,” God will say yes. For Abby, my miracle and only surviving child (so far), I chose a butterfly. Butterflies symbolize playfulness, renewal and joy. She is certainly the joy in our lives. Although she has hit a resistance stage where she fights almost at every turn, she is still very sweet and gentle. I love her independence spirit. For Ziva, I chose a hummingbird simply because I’ve always loved hummingbirds. Hummingbirds symbolize resiliency, lightness of being and swiftness. Ziva was so tiny when she was born, I can see her as a hummingbird.

I realize now that the symbols I chose to represent my children are a reflection of me. The trust in miracles, the joy, resiliency, and ability to change are representative of me and my outlook on life. Despite the darkness in my life, I look to change and grow. I look to joy and renewal. I look to God as the source of all life. I believe these messages from my dreams, my friend’s dream and the presence of the dragonflies were God answering my prayers about Angel. Even though it wasn’t the answer I was hoping for, I feel at peace that God was talking to me in different ways. You may read this and think it’s crazy. A dragonfly is a dragonfly and that I’m searching for meaning in nothing. But there are many examples in the Bible in which animals have been messengers and helpers of God, so why couldn’t He do so today? And how is it wrong that I am filled with comfort and joy when I see a bumblebee or a butterfly or a hummingbird or a dragonfly? Do I believe it’s the spirit of my heavenly babies? No, I don’t; however, I can see these creatures, think of my babies and smile. And I see nothing wrong with that.