Doctors, butterflies and dreams.

It has been some time since I wrote something on my blog, and to be honest, I should be completely ashamed of myself. Here I am, an aspiring writer (without much hope) neglecting his homework. But for a diverse number of reasons, I have to confess to my sins with a number of, not really excuses, but happenings in these two months that have shaken my foundations.

A lot of things have happened as I already mentioned, but most importantly and sadly, has been the unexpected passing away of two dear friends. Two friends whom I never ever imagined that I would outlive, let alone look back in fondness on.

The first was the stroke that Dr.Karl Chirchop suffered. It was an incapacitating blow that struck this young gentle person. Now, politics has nothing to do with this since me and Karl go a little while back along the years. Many people know KC through his political work, but I wasn’t one of them. Karl was actually our family GP, a Liverpool fan, and a hoot to talk to. The fact that I was, at that time, on the opposite side of his political stands only spurred us to greater debates and thoughts. Karl passed away a month after his stroke, and his death left a great emptiness in my heart.

At his funeral service, I could see how much this man meant to so many people. Too young to go at only 42. KC, you are already sorely missed.

The second death, and one that struck so close to home was the passing away of our erstwhile feisty pianist Jade Brincat. Dying at twenty-one of a heart-attack is almost unheard of. Dying at twenty-one of an attack brought about by a simple anti-biotic is even more horrific. Jade had a history of heart palpitations not too many people knew about. The antibiotic which she took for a chest infection struck her just as she suffered one of her palpitations, resulting in a swift death.

The news came through at work. A mate of mine poked his head round my office door and said… “I don’t want to alarm you or anything, but word is going around the factory that Jade died.”

I remember looking up and saying that it probably was her grandmother who had been in hospital for some time.

Sandro replied that he had already heard that and that it was being denied. I recall leaping off my chair and going off to find Ruby-Ann who works with us at Gavazzi. I saw Glenn and Ruby down near the reception area, and at that moment my legs fell out from beneath me. A sense of bewilderness spread over me and all I could hear was the buzzing of the girls who were shocked at the news.

Needless to say, a lot of thoughts were being spoken out loud…being a rocker, a goth, ah, you know…rockers these days. I was so angry at those words.

I went down to Glenn and Ruby who confirmed my worst fears. the attack had taken her life swiftly and her parents had only a few seconds to reach out to their daughter.

It seems that Jade died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

I cannot describe my grief. No words can ever hope to convery my despair at this friend’s passing.

I cried and cried all through the following week…messages flooded my phone and my mailbox, as well as Stillborn’s website. I felt this death so much… so so much. I used to pick up Jade on the way to the band, take her back home, meet up in church on Sunday evenings, pick her up on the way to work, and generally have a largely good time with loads of laughter punctuating the air. Jade was such a funny, lovable little person, and to this day I cannot fathom out why I felt her passing so much. She was much like the little sister I never had. My kids spent every last tear they had. They loved her with a passion.

Needless to say, the funeral service was chock-full, with practically every worker from Gavazzi attending, as well as the huge number of rockers that packed the parish church at Paola. It was so emotional and moving. I have never seen Raphael so distraught either, as we wept for our fallen friend.

Even now as I write, I am looking at her picture and feel the sorrow coming on again…

About a week after her funeral, I was still downcast and sad.

Until I had the dream.

I dreamt I was with my wife at hospital, walking along, when who should I see but Jade? She was wearing one of her usual black outfits, and she bade me to follow her. She went into a room, which promptly started to glow with an unearthly bright light, and Jade returned to us wearing an all-white smock with gilted edges, glowing bright yellow. At that point she hugged me and kissed me on the cheeks, telling me, ‘Do you believe?’… We walked together to the exit, and in my disbelief asked her if she could, like, float…she smiled and hovered above the floor for a few seconds, before settling down with a giggle. I could only stare at her for a few moments. Jade started walking out of the door, and I can recall exactly that the sensor did not catch her presence, and she went on straight through the glass plate as if it wasn’t even there. I think it was at that precise moment that I realised what she was trying to show me.

Out of the door I went with my wife. Jade turned to us and said. ‘I guess this is goodbye until we meet again. Yes, until we meet again.’

At that point she spread her wings, held out her hands and rose up until she vanished from our view. An angel reaching out to the heaven that she so believed in…yes I believed.

Immediately I woke up, with a new feeling in my heart. Yes, Jade, our little butterfly had gone, no longer gracing us with her music, her mad giggle, her funny clothes and warm soul…but she would always be in our hearts and minds. Until we meet again.

I could already imagine her creating chaos in heaven as she tries to get the angels to try out nose-rings or black lip-stick! Not to mention playing Heavy Metal for them!

This was on a Saturday, and I had to talk to somebody about it. Well, what are friends for after all? I called a young priest friend of mine, who said that he had no doubt that she had talked to me through a dream. He was absolutely sure that she had reached our God in heaven, and He had sent a message to me to rest my grieving heart. Although I supposed he was right, I could hardly believe it.

Until the next day, when something extraordinary happened that put all the pieces in place.

We were pottering up on the roof after a particularly windy night which had destroyed our roof-top garden.

I was up with my wife and Roxanne, when we started talking about her again. We started talking about the last barbecue we had up there, when we got really plastered. Jade had passed out on the roof, and Ruby-Ann was close to going as well. Nothing would make Raphael lose it, while I recall being a bit unsteady. I told my wife that I really missed her, but I was convinced she was at rest.

Suddenly we closed our mouths as a great big brown and orange butterfly fluttered out of nowhere. I had not seen a King Butterfly in Malta for loads of years. But this one was as huge as a platter! The butterfly danced around me, before settling down on my wife’s hair. We were struck speechless at this showing of God’s magnificent creation. Roxanne looked on with awe as the butterfly lifted off, flew around her head, and then rose out of view.

I guess it was this last happening that really confirmed my beliefs.

Why is it that some people’s loss affects you most? Is it because of their goodness, their unfailing help, or the total trust they offer you? Who knows…for me it has been a bizarre but self-healing experience.

First there was the dream, in which I was inclined to believe…then there was the butterfly incident, which totally convinced me.

When I think of Jade these days, it is usually with a grin and a contended sigh. Why should I grieve for someone who has finally found her place with the Lord? Yes my heart has finally settled and lost the stone that was resting heavily on it. I still mourn the physical person that was Jade obviously, but content with the knowledge that there is a new star in heaven tonight.

And the other Angels are probably wearing black lip-gloss, have their noses (and navels) pierced and listening to Heavy Metal right now as we speak!