Dragonfly love story brought readers hope

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 19, 2003

"Breathtaking" is the only word I can find to describe your response to last week's column about Olivia and Danny Scott and the dragonfly.

As you may recall, Olivia and Danny had been married for only two months when a recurrence of childhood leukemia, in remission for 15 years, claimed Danny's life in 1999. During their short time together, Olivia and Danny shared a deep appreciation for dragonflies. While preparing for the memorial service following his death, Olivia and Danny's parents, Dale and Candy Scott, encountered an iridescent dragonfly on a rock. It first stroked Dale's finger, then flew to Olivia's left shoulder, cocked its head as if to identify itself as Danny, and departed in the assurance that all was at peace.

Many of you – both men and women of all ages, some with tears running down your cheeks – shared personally with Olivia and me how the story gave you comfort and hope.

Here are excerpts from two e-mailed responses. The first is from Grace Vanden Berg whose brother-in-law has a surprising connection with Olivia's story:

DEAR WARREN, while going through my weekly Cochrane Eagle, the words "A dragonfly tale of love" caught my eye. I had recently heard a similar tale of a parents' love for their son who loved dragonflies, a son taken from them too soon.

During one of my visits with my brother-in-law, Didsbury artist Lody Vanden Berg, he told me a lady had commissioned him to do a piece as a memorial to a lost son. The memorial was to depict the special enchanted place loved by a son who loved dragonflies. I heard the story about the dragonfly that had come to offer comfort to the family.

Now, dragonflies do not usually land on people, do they? The story brought tears to my eyes; it was so sad and yet also so beautiful. Somehow we never think that a simple little dragonfly can be the purveyor of such hope. God works in mysterious ways, indeed. The piece, commissioned by a grieving family from a man who is an artist by the grace of God, and how they were brought together, just adds another surreal dimension to this story.

—Grace Vanden Berg, Cochrane

THE SECOND LETTER is also from Cochrane. Lindsie Haxton writes about the dragonfly as a symbol of life after death:

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, my minister, Rev. Don Neufeld, recounted a story about dragonflies.

As I remember it, some dragonfly larvae were sitting in the mud on the bottom of a lily pond, discussing the possibilities of a world beyond their own. They were limited to conjecture, as no larva that had left the familiar pond bottom to climb up to the water's surface had ever returned with information about the world above.

One practical-minded dragonfly made a vow to the other larvae: "When I leave this place and reach the surface of the pond, I will return and tell you everything that I have seen up there."

When the time came for him to leave the muddy pond bottom, he scaled the stem of a lily pad, then rested on its broad, flat leaves. As he lay there, he shed his larva skin and took on the form of a beautiful, blue winged dragonfly. Spreading his new wings, he soared skyward. This vast, bright, beautiful world was more than he or his larva kin could ever have imagined!

Regrettably, he was unable to fulfill his promise to the mud-bound larvae. His new form was created to soar, and he could not return underwater. He wondered, "Even if it was possible for me to return, would they comprehend this world that I am now a part of?"

Like Olivia, I had some serendipitous dragonfly experiences following the death of my father three years ago. My memorable meetings with the ethereal dragonfly comforted me and reminded me that my father didn't die. He left this place to soar in another.

—Lindsie Haxton, Cochrane

THANK YOU, all of you, for your kind words.

© 2003 Warren Harbeck

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