Book EXCERPPT from
A Butterfly’s Journey… Healing Grief After the Loss of a Child

“As I walked into my twenty-one-year-old son Brent’s hospital room on that last evening of May, I remember thinking, How could I be losing another son?

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My Arizona State University Army ROTC student lay perfectly still, hooked up to life support. Other than all the monitors and tubes, he looked fine, strong and handsome, as if he was just sleeping. I’d lost his younger brother, Robbie, a full- term stillborn son, fifteen years earlier. This couldn’t be happening again!

Brent’s father, Bob, his younger brother Brad, and I had just gotten off a six-hour-flight in a desperate attempt to get to Arizona before it was too late. Bob had picked up a phone message that morning from Brent’s commanding officer, who said that Brent had been in a motorcycle accident, that it was bad, and we should come to Arizona as quickly as we could.

Brad, barely nineteen, had just walked into the house after being out all night at his senior prom. It was pure coincidence that they were both at home since neither had planned to be there then. I was on a business trip, having no idea what was happening.

Bob immediately called our good friend Kimm to help. She dropped everything and came right over, making flight arrangements while they packed and got ready to head to Boston’s Logan Airport. Bob tried to call my cell phone, and Kimm tried to reach me through my Boston area IBM office, but I was in New Jersey at a customer location.

By chance, I’d stayed with my friend Annette near that customer the night before and had happened to introduce her to my boss, Mike, when we met for a drink. It was good that I did because my cell phone had no reception in the customer’s brick building, and only Annette knew exactly where I was. It took them four hours to track me down through my secretary, my boss, my friend, and the company’s reception desk.

It seemed odd when the meeting room phone rang that someone asked me to take the call.
It was Mike. “Barbara, you need to call Bob right away. I don’t know the details,” he said, “but I think it’s about your son in Arizona.” I hung up and tried to reset the phone,fumbling to get an outside line.

Finally, Bob picked up. “Thank God,” he said when he heard my voice. “I only have a minute . . . they’re going to close the airplane door, so I’ll have to shut off my phone. Brent has been in a motorcycle accident,” he said, “and we need to get to Arizona as fast as we can!”

I felt my stomach drop, something on the way to nausea, and I heard myself utter an involuntary, “No!” a little too loudly. “Oh my God! Is he okay?” “I’m not sure.” Bob paused. “But it sounds serious.”

This was the nightmare phone call that every parent  dreads, and now that nightmare had come true for me. Suddenly, reality shifted.

Barbara Hopkinson has done something extraordinarily generous here: she has taken her bottomless grief and shined a hard-earned light through 

it, the light that never dies, a parent’s love for her child. A Butterfly’s Journey is an important and timely contribution to the literature of spiritual and life-loving resilience.’

Andre Dubus III, NY Times’ best-selling author of House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and Townie


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