Today I found a ladybug in my bed. It came out from underneath my blanket and crawled onto my finger, as many ladybugs have done before. “Hi Papa,” I whispered, “Good morning”.
As little girl visiting my grandparents in Georgia I saw a doodlebug, sliding around making patterns in the sand with its body. “What’s that Papa?” I asked, and a lifetime nickname was born. The less-than-cute doodlebug was symbolized by a ladybug on all my letters and cards. My grandfather, Papa, passed over a decade ago, but he has been in touch through ladybugs.
Here in Tucson, we celebrate the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, the day of the dead. There is a parade that centers around a large paper-mâché cauldron. Surrounded by rhythmic drummers and people in sugar skull makeup, the cauldron is ceremonially wheeled through the parade. As it goes by, you can add a note for your loved ones who have passed. At the end of the parade, the cauldron is hoisted into the air by a crane. Hundreds of feet in the air, acrobats light the cauldron and then tumble down on cables as it burns. It is as spectacular and reverent as it sounds.
I attended my first day of the dead parade shortly after my grandfather passed. I put a paper with a ladybug drawn on it into the cauldron. After the parade, I went home to make tacos. I was chopping cilantro, contemplating all that I had just witnessed, when a little ladybug crawled out of the cilantro bag and perched on my finger. Writing this, I can still feel the magic in that moment. “Hi Papa”.
Since then ladybugs have visited me in gardens and unlikely places, like my bed this morning. They visit me when I ask for a hello, or when I’m struggling. On Mother’s Day, while anxiously waiting to find out my youngest was going to be a girl or a third boy, a ladybug flew onto my finger. I turned to my best friend and said, “It’s a girl” (I was right).
Spirit communicates with us through signs and symbols. When someone you love passes, mentally set a symbol for them so they know how to come and say hello. Be loose in your interpretations. Ladybugs visit me in lots of ways, items at the store, or on a tv show. If you ask for a sign, they will give one.
I love you Papa. Xoxo, Doodlebug 🐞