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Pahrump butterfly release a tribute to lives lost

One hundred live butterflies were released during the annual Nathan Adelson Hospice butterfly release at the Calvada Eye this past Sunday.

The butterflies were sold out for this year by April 25, but everyone in the Pahrump community was welcome at this ceremony of life, regardless.

Butterflies symbolize metamorphosis – change – from one physical state to another. The live release was an occasion to honor and remember loved ones, and also mark the metamorphosis of those left behind. Coordinated by the Center for Compassionate Care, a non-profit division of Nathan Adelson Hospice, the message was restoration and peace for the families’ and caregivers’ spirits.

NAH Pahrump Clinical Manager Cheryl Johnston briefly addressed those gathered, then introduced Karen Rubel, president and CEO of NAH. Rubel and Johnston honored two fallen NAH medical professionals lost this past year: Dr. William V. Craig, and nurse Stanley Cuaresma.

Theirs were the first butterflies released.

Chaplain Richard Martin acknowledged the grief journey of those present, reassuring them that healing does not mean forgetting. Vivian McCuneo of NAH read a poem “A Butterfly Story.”

Robby LeBlanc played “Cavatina” on his acoustic guitar. This 1970’s classical composition by Stanley Myers was popularized as the theme from “The Deer Hunter.”

LeBlanc said he was inspired just Saturday morning to also perform Alan Silvestri’s theme song from “Forrest Gump,” as the live butterflies were released.

“I’ve lost five loved ones over the past two years. Five.” he said. “I’m still attending the grief counseling sessions coordinated by the hospice. When they said they wanted live music for the butterfly release, I volunteered immediately.”

Stephanie Forbes, philanthropy officer out of the Las Vegas headquarters, coordinated the event. “It’s been celebrate and honor their loved ones. We saw a lot of smiles, we saw a lot of tears.”

Native American tradition holds that a wish or a message whispered to a butterfly will be granted when it flies up into the heavens. The Nathan Adelson Hospice butterfly release helped many find peace and healing, as it has for over two decades.

The service culminated as families released live butterflies from their tiny, triangular shipping boxes. At the prompt, the boxes were carefully opened so that the butterflies could awaken from their dormant state. Stephanie Forbes explained that NAH families had received letters this spring, inviting them to purchase a butterfly for $25.

“We were working on butterfly time this Sunday. There is a brief optimal time for the butterflies to come out of dormancy,” she said.

There were two butterflies in each box, and upon release, they needed five to 10 minutes to stretch their wings and absorb sunshine so that they could fly.

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