Mosquitoes and Valentines
My son brought the best valentine home from Grade Two: A small heart, hand-cut from pink construction paper, bearing his classmate’s note: You are sometimes loyal to me.
Ever-loyal friends, should you feel inclined, my preferred valentines would say:
You are always kind.
You are always compassionate.
You are always brave.
Of course, if it’s the always that matters, I’m none of those things.
A few years ago I spent the summer living with a friend. Each morning when he let the dogs out, he left the patio door wide open. Later I’d see him cradling an ant or beetle in his hands, releasing the insect outside.
Me? I killed those little fuckers. I didn’t hate them, but I was annoyed that the bugs got into the house in the first place. If they’d stayed outside they could have lived, I’d lament.
As the summer wore on, my friend saving bugs and me smacking them, I started a new practice. Before I killed a mini-beast, I’d look at it and say, “Your fate and mine are connected.”
Mosquitoes I addressed posthumously, for expedience.
One day my friend heard me telling a moth about our connected destinies. He busted into Ezekiel 25:17, “...And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and fuuuuurious anger,” impersonating Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.Then he blew the moth’s head off with a thumb-and-finger pistol — double tap.
I laughed and explained, “It’s not like that. I’m acknowledging that this creature had its own life, and that life ended when it met me.”
Three thoughts I didn’t say out loud that day: (with suggested valentines)
You know, I wouldn’t have to do this if you closed the damn patio door.
You are sometimes patient.
I might start catching and releasing them, occasionally. Not the mosquitoes, though. They die.
You are sometimes merciful.
Doing this helps me remember that one day I’ll meet a force greater than my own life.
You are sometimes humble.
When summer ended and my friend was gone, I kept acknowledging the little creatures that crossed my path, whether I was whacking, freeing, or just noticing them as they went about their business. For this reason, and others, I claim connection between my friend’s fate and my own.
So how about us, dear reader? Could our fates be connected? You’ve read this far, which takes a certain – loyalty. By Grade Two standards, that practically makes us valentines.
Jessica Waite lives in Calgary, Alberta with her son and two dogs. She conserves stories and memories of lost loved ones at www.endlesstories.love and mentions this as an open invitation to anyone who’s curious about the healing power of narrative.