Lessons from the Praying Mantis

There is a cycle to the moods, the intrusive thoughts, the wrenching ache.  I have felt pretty good for about three days and I also feel guilty for feeling good.   Why are we wired this way?

Is it the same need as those who inflict physical injury upon themselves to make sure they are still alive?    Am I afraid that I will forget my son, so I have to dredge myself through the pain of loosing him again and again to make sure I remember?

The intrusive thoughts that  I have usually center around the hospital.  Seeing him there, his body alive his spirit gone.   I wanted to make sure he heard me one more time, but he, I am afraid did not.

I remember the words I said, stroking his hair, kissing his still warm face.  I can bring tears up quickly with those thoughts.   So if necessary, if I am feeling like I have strayed too far from my sorrow, I have a ready trigger at hand.   The question is for me, am I trying to hard to hold on to those pain triggers and not trying to grab on to the potential joy?

My children have always been a great source of joy.  In early childhood they provided me with a constant source of amazement.  They saw the world in a new fresh way.  We talked and talked about everything and anything.  We read books, we collected things from nature, we drew and painted and listened to music.  We danced and we sang.

I did not underestimate my children and I was never disappointed.  If they expressed interest in or seemed to understand something that perhaps was considered not something a person their age would like, we pursued it anyway.  My son’s kindergarten teacher reinforced the idea.  If a child showed interest you just kept filling the glass, until they could drink no more, even if you had to go so far as to provide “college” level information.

Probably from the outside we appeared a bit eclectic.  I don’t think it has hurt either one of my children.

We discovered a praying mantis on the bushes outside our house when our son was around 6 and our daughter 3.  I took them to the library and we found a book on the praying mantis.   I remember that day because I locked my keys in the car and had to have someone come and help me get in the vehicle.  I remember frustration, being there with my two young children, and their dad at work and unreachable – it being the days before cell phones.

We took the book home finally and read about the mantis.   We figured out it was a female and because of the time of the year and her great bulging abdomen we knew she would soon produce her egg sack.  The book suggested that we could let her live on our draperies in the den for a short time.  She would drink from a teaspoon that she would reach for pulling it towards her with her grasping front legs.  We found crickets in the back yard and skewering them on a toothpick with them still kicking and

A morning walk

offered them to her.  She would reach out and take the toothpick, turning the cricket like corn on the cob all the while regarding us with reflected interest.  Finally as the days grew colder she became restless, flying from the draperies so  we put her out on the rose bushes where she could find aphids to snack on.

One day my son took me out and there was the egg sack attached to a twig.

We took it in and placed in the garage, on a shelf.   Our timing was perfect for in the Spring we found hundreds of tiny praying mantis (mantids) scattering from the now empty egg sack.

Until the day he died our son could find a praying mantis egg sack in the fall.  He would collect it and place it in the sheltered window of the garage for it to hatch and release the young.  I often find an adult female on our deck.  This year, if I am so lucky I will talk to her and regard her as she turns her triangular head towards me to  listen.  I will tell her that I know about her because of my son.

I know about so many things because of my children.

I am working on cultivating these memories, that unfortunately also make me cry, but maybe in a different way.

My son was a man of learning.  I like to think that our early times together encouraged that in him.  He and his sister opened doors to thoughts and ideas I would have never had without them.  I will just have to try harder, observe more carefully and find those things he would have had me find, perhaps catching a glimpse of him here and there along the way.

About pathfinder

Artist, Writer, Walking wounded.
This entry was posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lessons from the Praying Mantis

  1. rjshew says:

    Well said, I, too remember when this was going on, because you shared it with me as it happened. Great memories.

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