Chronicles of comfort

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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New book tells of special encounters with butterflies

Lloyd Hollett found himself listening to a lot of touching stories about people's experiences with butterflies at the Newfoundland Insectarium.

Most often, the tales involved encounters with the colourful creatures after the passing of someone dear.

Lloyd Hollett inside the Newfoundland Insectarium's butterfly pavilion. Photo by Katherine Hudson/Transcontinental Media

Lloyd Hollett found himself listening to a lot of touching stories about people's experiences with butterflies at the Newfoundland Insectarium.

Most often, the tales involved encounters with the colourful creatures after the passing of someone dear.

He even had such an experience himself, when a butterfly perched on the handle of the door to the Alberta church where his mom was waking.

"It was a sign (from Mom) that, 'I'm still around and I'm in a better place,'" says Hollett, who owns the insectarium and is a familiar face to many across the province because of his travelling bug exhibits.

He decided to solicit and compile butterfly anecdotes.

The fruit of that labour: his new book, "Butterfly Messengers - True Stories of Comfort and Hope."

Published by Flanker Press, it contains more than 60 personal accounts from people who have been comforted by butterflies.

Not all involve encounters after a loved one has died, but the majority do.

"The main thing from (these stories) is hope," Hollett says, when asked what he hoped the book achieves.

To people who have lost somebody, he elaborates, the butterflies provide hope a loved one is still around.

He says the insects are symbols of rebirth.

Most of the stories are from Newfoundland and Labrador, although there are some from across Canada and a couple from the United States.

Hollett shares his own experience, and Desma Churchill is among the many others who do the same.

Her son, Matthew, was killed in March 2005 by a driver who fled the scene after hitting him.

She asked Matthew to send her a butterfly while visiting his resting place on the day he would have turned 16.

Within seconds, Churchill writes, "the most beautiful butterfly I had ever seen landed upon Matthew's monument."

Hollett says he was simply fascinated by the stories submitted.

To illustrate that point, he alludes to an anecdote submitted by a young woman who lost her best friend to cancer and didn't erase a message the friend once left on her answering machine.

A year after the friend's passing, a butterfly flittered around the writer and she felt a warm feeling.

The phone rang when the young woman went inside and, as she picked it up, the message played.

Hollett says he faced limitations in letting people outside of Newfoundland and Labrador know he was looking for butterfly stories.

He believes there are countless stories out there and hopes people from all over send them to him.

He's already thinking about a follow-up book.

"I'm hoping this will spin another," Hollett says.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Alberta church, Flanker Press

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, United States

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Recent comments

  • Shirley Frost
    May 17, 2013 - 15:37

    Hello Lloyd: I have lost your e-mail address, but I wanted to tell you I've finally published my book Walking Under Water! Hope you remember me, you dropped in to visit with Jim and I when you were in Yarmouth, N.S.The book is selling very well so far! How are you doing? Love to hear from you! Shirley Frost

  • M
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Where exactly is this Nfld Insectarium? I think i know someone who really needs to visit that place.

  • Valerie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I, too, have received messages via butterflies and birds. I purchased Mr. Hollett's book and the stories are very heartwarming. I especially enjoyed the one Hi, This is Niki Niki written by Pam Martin. Niki was a wonderful outgoing young woman; she was also my daughter and only child. Thank you, Lloyd Hollett for sharing these stories with us all and a personal thank you to Pam for sharing your story of Niki with me.