Louise and the Dragonfly

After my daughter Louise died, for a very long time I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. What I could do was spend afternoons at Minnehaha Creek where she and I used to walk our dogs and where her women friends planted a maple tree in her memory. There I could  walk the wooded paths, breathe in fresh air, and listen to the rushing water.  All I could hear then was the wail of my grieving heart.

One June day, my bones aching with missing her, I pleaded, “If I had some way to know you are here, it would help. When you were an exchange student in Japan, you were across the world but I knew how to find you. I don’t even know if you are here now. I don't know how to find you. And I can’t bear losing you.” As those words tumbled out, I spotted a purple dragonfly hovering about Louise’s maple where I stood. Through tears, I closed my eyes, only to find the dragonfly gone when I opened them again. My heart sank. I felt like I would crumple to the ground.

But wait. In the wood chips under the tree a slight movement caught my downcast eye. When I bent to look closer, there was the dragonfly, wings folded against its body, imperceptibly blending with the wood chips except for that tiny flutter. It was alive in a different form!

Grateful, I breathed “Thank you, Louise! Thank you for the sign.” Ever since then, the dragonfly reminds me that Louise is here.

Dragonfly has come in different sizes and colors throughout the twenty years since Louise's death. I'm always grateful for the reminder that she's here.  She came today, in fact, as an orange-winged dragonfly big as a hummingbird, just as I was getting ready to ride out on the trail with Blue Angel. She landed on the aerial of my parked red Prius, perching there for several minutes. She stayed while we had a little chat, after I thanked her for coming and even as Blue and I headed out the gate.

It intrigued me that she perched for so long on the aerial. This time she didn’t blend in at all. She was out there in all her orange-winged glory. “Tune in,” I heard her say. “Listen. Understanding comes to you if you quiet yourself enough to hear.”

With the passing the years since Louise’s death, my tears still flow, but quietly in the background. My heart can now hear more than its own grief. Thanks to Louise, I’ve come away from today's visit picturing myself with my own personal aerial springing from my head, orange dragonfly atop, kind of like a cosmic Teletubby tuning me in to the voice of nature, the heart of humanity.

Get out your journal and colored markers:

  • Tell about a transformational moment in your life.
  • Was it a one-time thing, or does an image from that moment keep recurring in your life?
  • Draw a version of that image.
  • How has the original experience morphed over the years?


Lynn Baskfield guides you through rites of passage* with storytelling, writing, creative expression, ritual, retreats, nature and very centrally, the wisdom of horses. If you work with Lynn and her experiential coaching approach, confidence, joy and creative solutions will emerge naturally as you align your life with the things that you value most.

Lynn holds an M.A in Human Development and is a certified life coach, transformational educator and the author of two books. As owner of SpiritDance Coaching, she has been coaching, training, and conducting retreats for individuals and groups since 1997. She also trains and mentors equine guided professionals around the world. www.lynnbaskfield.com

* Adult Rites of Passage: Stepping into Your Big Dream, Career Change, Empty Nest, Moving, Conscious Aging, Facing Chronic or Life-Threatening Illness, Loss and Grief

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