Like Dragonflies

Earlier this month I visited the home of a little girl who was very ill and who, sadly, has since died.  May she be at peace.

I’d met her and her family a number of times in recent years but had not been to her home before.  I felt (and still do) sad for her parents and family but was very taken by the girl’s obvious connection with those around her and, I am totally convinced, with God.  As I drove away from her home, trying to make sense of what was going on for this family (and incapable of doing so), a song was playing on the radio.  It was the Ronan Collins Show and I’d never heard the song before.  I didn’t even realise I was listening to it, to be honest, as my thoughts were in the house and with the family I had just left.  Then I heard the chorus:

How can something so fragile leave us helpless
We all feel helpless once in a while
How can something so fragile leave us humble
We all need humble once in a while.

It described exactly what I was feeling – helpless and humble.  I wished that I could do more for this girl and her family – we all did – and much was done to try to help but at day’s end we were, all of us, helpless.  This little girl humbled me to the core because I knew she experienced a connection with God and with Our Lady that was very personal to her.  She had visited with her family many of the Shrines and Pilgrimage Sites that are part of our faith.  She had brought from them a comfort that seems to have run very deep.  It’s certain that, even in her tender years, she knew more of God’s love for her than many of us and that she found there a strength that she may or may not have put into words.

The song is called “Dragonflies” and I know virtually nothing about them.  I’ve wondered though.  I checked a little and see now that dragonflies live most of their lives beneath the water in a sort of tadpole state.  In the summer they emerge from the water, fully formed and glorious in colour, complex in make-up, and extremely agile. Their lifespan in this state is very short-lived and they disappear, in many cases, almost as quickly as they arrived.

The songwriter ponders their journey, uniqueness and the difference they make. (Today I noticed a story on line that the distinctive movement of dragonflies’ wings can destroy bacteria and that scientists are trying to develop a way of replicating this movement so that bacteria can be broken down before it causes harm).  The song, to me, is saying that the dragonfly is noticed, special and forever cherished.  Though small and fragile, it makes a massive contribution to our world.

That’s what I want to say about Doireann – the little girl – that’s what I want to say to her parents, sister, grandparents and friends.  Yes she humbled us, yes she made us feel helpless but in her six years she made a real difference.  Like the dragonfly, most of those years she was a little girl, living primarily under the surface and in the watch of her family and those who loved her most.  In sickness, she rose to the surface, and made all of us realise how special and treasured – how unique and gifted – her life. She made a real difference and we are better people because she lived.

The song, by Eddi Reader, is included below.  The child, Doireann, is in our hearts.  The need to remember her family and to remember her continues.

A lost summer’s day, a lifetime away
What do you find
Slow turning sun, with somewhere to run
On your mind
Not the flash that you saw
That was gone in the wink of an eye
As soon as we’re here, we disappear, like dragonflies.

Their miracle blue can never tell you
How it came to be
Each different kind, accidental designed
Before you and me
And we ask the whole of our lives
maybe there’s no why
As soon as we’re here, we disappear, like dragonflies.

How can something so fragile leave us helpless
We all feel helpless once in a while
How can something so fragile leave us humble
We all need humble once in a while.

Did you think of this
That each of us know in our hearts we must go
And that’s what beauty is
And just as the dream you were in
dissolved in the morning sky
As soon as we’re here, we disappear, like dragonflies.

How can something so fragile leave us helpless
We all feel helpless once in a while
How can something so fragile leave us humble
We all feel humble once in a while.

And now nature can sing such beautiful wings
Did you think of this
That each of us know in our hearts we must go
And that’s what beauty is
And just as the dream you were in dissolved in the morning sky
As soon as we’re here, we disappear, like dragonflies.