Illuminations

Fireflies in the Garden
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

—Robert Frost

This morning Z sat eating a bowl of cereal and I attempted to sweep the dining room around her – V The Toddler has discovered how fun it is to throw food, made worse by the fact that we have spent this summer waging The Battle of the Ants – and in my sweeping, came upon a dead firefly. I said to Z, “How sad,” and she insisted on getting out of her chair to look at it, as she likes to do with most creatures, alive or not. I finished my job and grabbed the dustpan to sweep up all the little piles, when she told me, “It’s not dead. It’s alive.” I knelt down to have a closer look and sure enough, she was right. Alive, but barely. Probably too far gone by this point. Z has truly discovered the wonder that is a yard full of flickering fireflies this summer, has in fact gone to bed far to late most nights because she stands in bed watching them out the window, and she was visibly distressed at the plight of this lone firefly. “We HAVE to take it outside,” she said, “it needs to go out there.” Carefully I collected it in a tissue and placed it into the Invasive Species Jungle that is the backyard. “There,” she said. “Now it will be okay because it will find all its firefly friends. Now it won’t be lonely anymore because it can fly away and be with them.”

I of course didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t think so, that it was dying (not that she really *gets* death at 3 1/2 anyway). Better to let her believe. Better for me to learn how to believe from her. Better for us all.

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