Life lessons from a spider
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 12:00 pm
My son and I were reading the final chapters of Charlotte’s Web a few nights ago. He lay quietly with his finger in his mouth wiggling a loose tooth. At one point I stopped reading and told him that twisting it was usually more effective than the back and forth motion he was so valiantly attempting.
I returned to reading. I get to the point in the story when Charlotte tells Wilbur that she hasn’t the energy to return with him home from the fair and Wilbur desperately tries to retrieve Charlotte’s egg sack from the rafter so that he will be able to have a piece of her with him back at the farm.
My son looks at me.
“Mom it’s just a story, you’re OK.”
He says this so sweetly but I can see that he is a bit shaken by my tears. He then returns to his wiggling and I continue reading.
My son, as is the case with many kids his age, has always been a bit worried about death. He knows that people die and isn’t impressed with the inevitability of it. I was apprehensive about his reaction to this part of the story. I was tired and looking forward to some quiet time. I had no desire to freak him out. I am also not a parent who shelters my kids from the hard stuff in life, so I read on.
She never moved again. Next day, as the Ferris wheel was being taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon deserted. The sheds and buildings were empty and forlorn. The infield was littered with bottles and trash. Nobody, of the hundreds of people that visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died.
I stop to await my son’s reaction. What I got was something I never imagined. He looked at me with the biggest bloody grin and yelled, “I pulled it out!”
He then proceeded to jump off the bed and run into my daughter’s room to tell his father. After a quick photo session and a happy cuddle, he told me, “I’m so happy I have tears.”
Recently I have been struggling with some big decisions about where I want to take my career. My business practice is growing; so are the piles of laundry and the dust bunnies. The way my family needs me is changing. My son is going into Grade 1, my daughter wants more and more “girl time” and my husband is thriving in his new career. They are changing too and I have no desire to miss it. It is time to simplify.
Change is inevitable. I recently made the decision to quit a job I love. I quit it for all the right reasons and it was time. I will miss working with the teens at the hospital and my talented supportive colleagues. Mostly I am scared as hell. Change is hard because it is unknown and uncomfortable. Relying primarily on my private practice to pay the bills is a bit difficult to fathom. Yet here I am, taking that big scary leap.
Since I started my private practice two years ago I have been wiggling that tooth, waiting for the time to let go of the old to make room for the new. I hope I can approach this change with the reckless abandon that my five-year-old embraces the hole in his smile. The blood was only a minor distraction from his end goal. Still there is always time to reflect on change.
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.