A monarch butterfly paid Frank O’Donnell a visit a week after he laid his 15-year-old daughter Keri to rest. Keri’s favourite colours, neon orange and black, gave him an unlikely ray of hope in a dark time.

Whether or not the butterfly was a cosmic messenger, Keri was reaching out to let him know her love was still there, according to O’Donnell. O’Donnell created a memorial garden in her honour to commemorate their passion.

Over time, the adoring father began to associate monarch butterflies with his daughter to the point that he began to study them. As a result, he discovered that his beloved Lepidoptera genus was on the verge of extinction.

“Monarchs, to me, are Keri,” O’Donnell said. “I love seeing the other butterflies too, but the monarchs are what reminds me of her, just because of that one monarch that visited the week after her funeral,” he told The Boston Globe.

To help save them, O’Donnell began growing milkweed, a favourite food of monarch butterflies, as well as other butterfly-attracting plants in Keri’s garden.

O’Donnell adopted a batch of monarch larvae from the conservation group Monarch Watch in addition to four caterpillars he discovered on his own land. He raised the brood in a specially outfitted garden shed festooned with Keri pictures over the course of several weeks.

In total, 27 butterflies reached maturity and were released into the garden flora before flitting away on their 3,000-mile journey to Mexico.

When O’Donnell gathered the milkweed pods at the end of the season, he was left with a large number of seeds. He wanted to share his bounty with everyone who asked in order to preserve the monarch species and his daughter’s memory.

Hundreds of requests were sent from all over the United States. Every new generation of monarchs, according to O’Donnell, is a testament to everlasting love that transcends earthly and heavenly ties.

“I guess I’ve become more spiritual, not necessarily in a religious sense, but you know, nature does a lot of stuff,” O’Donnell told the Globe. “And, I honestly do believe that she’s around. Every once in a while, you’ve got like a little tingle and you know, it’s just like, somebody is paying attention.”

Requests for milkweed seeds from Keri’s garden can be emailed to frankodonnellcomedy@gmail.com.

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