Karl's motto was “don't cry, Jesus will take care of me.” He'd say it when he saw our tears or felt our concern. He'd lead us forward when we were faltering. Karl's strength and wisdom allowed him to make the necessary adjustments to go from a sandbox full of trucks and shovels, to a little boy in a very uncertain world. Karl had Wilms tumor. It's a rare form of cancer usually found in toddler-aged children.
Karl's first tumor was found when he was two, his second when he was three, and his third when he was four. He went through several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Still, he found it easy to tell me, “Mom, I was just talking to Jesus. I told Him that I loved Him, and thanked Him for taking such good care of me.” Karl fought a good fight and prayed for many of his sick friends along the way. Karl didn't survive his cancer and I'm sure some of his friends haven't either. But I do know that he was holding tight to Jesus' hand when he breathed his first breath of Heaven.
Just a few weeks after Karl was diagnosed with his third tumor, Tyler, Molly & Matti Pogones gave Karl a jar with two cocoons hanging inside. Karl loved nature and wildlife so he thought these were a fun thing to have. We put them up on the mantle so we could keep an eye on them. Every day we checked them until one day, after arriving home from a Mayo appointment, we noticed one cocoon had opened and a beautiful Monarch was beginning to spread it's wings. We gently opened the top and placed the butterfly outside. We watched it as it opened and closed its wings and finally took flight. Just a short emerged. It was another Monarch and this time it sat on Karl's finger before flying to a tree. We watched again as it opened and closed its wings before finally flying off.
Those butterflies gave us the opportunity to experience, in a small way, what it was like for Karl to emerge from his “cocoon” to freedom and newness in Heaven with Jesus. The night before Karl died he told my mom that the next day was going to be sunny and that he was going to be a butterfly. That next day was Sunday — it was a beautifully sunny day and Karl went to be with Jesus.
We recently read a character sketch about the Monarch Butterfly and it said that it means “kindness … bringing joy out of sorrow.” We're so thankful for the many ways the Lord has allowed us to experience joy these past years. Whenever we see a butterfly, we feel a great sense of comfort and peace knowing Karl has such great freedom in Heaven.