The day Sister Mary Virginia fell, my first monarch caterpillar of the summer began the final stage of its transformation. It entered into its chrysalis. The morning after she died, it emerged, its transformation complete. This was not only a timely sign of resurrection life, but an amazing one as well, because monarchs usually take 10-14 days for the transformation to occur. This monarch took only seven days. While not miraculous, it is uncommon enough to be of note.
As I have reflected back on the final week of Virginia’s life, I came to realize an even deeper significance of my monarch experience. I was with her in the Emergency Room while she waited and when she received the diagnosis of a broken hip. She was devastated. She knew what that would mean—surgery and long months of rehab. She had done that once. She didn’t know if she could do it again. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I witnessed the beginning of S Mary Virginia’s final stage of her transformation. Like the caterpillar, there was a surrender to the process that would bring about her complete transformation. She agreed to surgery and to whatever might unfold for her in the coming days. The surgery went well but because of the constellation of other issues—the hematoma, the difficulty with anesthesia—she never really “woke up” and died peacefully. Her transformation complete, she entered into the resurrection life. The chrysalis of her final week coincided with the chrysalis time of my monarch and has become a powerful image of surrender and transformation, the paschal mystery summed up in the amazing story of my monarch and of our sister, Mary Virginia.
Links to remember Sister Mary Virginia:
•Sister Mary Virginia’s Eulogy, by Sr. Karen Mohan
•Sister Mary Virginia’s Memorial Video: