Sometimes connecting with another being changes us more than we could have ever expected.
Posted in , Nov 10, 2020
It’s easy to understand the bond we have with our pets. They are part of our families and everyday lives. But sometimes, we cross paths with another creature and the experience not only surprises us, but leaves a lasting impression.
A Wing and a Prayer
Thomas Bandise from Stony Brook, New York
One late afternoon in September, my wife came home from work and told me she noticed a butterfly having trouble flying right outside our house. I went out to take a look and noticed that one of the Monarch’s wings was split.
I’ve always enjoyed the many butterflies that flit about our neighborhood—Monarchs, with their orange, black and white coloring, have always been my favorite. I watch them go from flower to flower, free to fly wherever they wish. So, I just didn’t have the heart to walk away from this one. I’ve always been pretty good at fixing things, but I had no idea what to do here. “Google it,” my wife suggested. “There’s no way the answer to this is online,” I said. But she was convincing and I was shocked when I typed “repair split butterfly wing” into the search box. A step-by-step video was all I needed to believe I could actually help this creature. I even had all the materials: contact cement, a wire hanger, toothpick and talcum powder.
After placing the butterfly in a plastic container, I followed the video instructions, bending the wire hanger to hold the Monarch in place, the torn wing exposed. Using the toothpick, I applied contact cement to both sides of the tear and carefully joined them. Then, I dabbed talcum powder on the wing with my finger so it wouldn’t stick to anything else. Operation complete. Please let this beautiful being fly again, I whispered.
When the cement seemed dry, I removed the wire hanger and brought the plastic container outside, holding it low. Then, with one swift movement, I swooped my arm up and the butterfly lifted itself up! Both colorful wings fluttered and the Monarch flew down to me as if to say, “Thank you.” I will never forget that moment—all of God’s creatures deserve a chance to fly.
Space for All
Mari Pack from New York City
Eek! “Sasha, come kill this spider!”
It was enormous, almost the size of a quarter, black and white, scurrying around the window in our study. I hate spiders, I hate spiders, I thought, backing away.
My boyfriend walked in and squinted. “It’s good to have spiders by the windows. They eat the other bugs.”
“You’re not going to get rid of it?”
“No,” he said, walking back to the kitchen. “Give her a name. She won’t bother you so much if she has a name.”
A name? I was terrified of creepy-crawlers. I couldn’t share a room with a bug, let alone name it. Maybe the cat would eat it? I looked down at our Siamese, Bilbo, sleeping on the floor. He hadn’t killed anything in years.
“Fine!” I called back. “I’ll name her after you.”
For the next week, I watched in horror as Sasha Spider traveled around the room. She crawled over paintings, windows, and desks. I froze when I spotted her, following her with my eyes, willing her not to get too close.
Human Sasha took a picture of her with his phone. “Have you Googled what type of spider she is?”
“If you zoom in here, she looks like a Jumping Spider,” he said.
J-j...jumping? I flashed back: me at nine years old in my childhood basement. The army of Camel Crickets guarding the washing machine, jumping feet in the air, hopping all around me. “Don’t make me go downstairs,” I’d begged my parents. Even as an adult, I had trouble doing laundry at my parents’ house.
“It looks like they don’t have webs, but jump around and hunt,” he said.
Get her out, I thought, but human Sasha wouldn’t budge. “There are less flies.”
I couldn’t just abandon the study, the only office space in our house. I’d have to make do and learn to live with Sasha Spider. What was that line by poet Nicki Giovanni? I don’t think I’m allowed to kill something because I am frightened.
Sasha Spider, for her part, had little interest in me. She went about her daily life, hunting and scurrying. If I dared get a bit close, she simply stared back with her enormous eyes. What a funny little thing. Another week passed, and while I still startled whenever I saw her, I noticed I was less fearful, less desperate to see her gone. She was, if not my friend, at least a fellow being, deserving of space. We all are.
A Welcome Visitor
Pam Pollack from New York City
My much-loved tabby, Jack, died just before the Covid-19 pandemic, and I started to shelter in place alone in my New York City apartment. I live in a four-story building that has a backyard with big leafy trees—greenery I enjoy from my third-floor terrace.
Missing Jack and not being able to see friends and family, I sat in silence one day looking out back when a dove suddenly landed on my terrace. She made herself at home over the next few days and I soon noticed two eggs in a box of ivy that hangs over my railing. She sat on them all day and night, focusing straight ahead, hardly ever moving. Her mate would swoop down in the evening to bring food and then disappear again. If I tried to take a picture of her, she’d flutter her wings, alerting her mate, and they’d both ascend to the tree above. Moments later, she’d be back, protecting her unhatched babies.
I found comfort in her presence—a welcome distraction from my empty-feeling apartment. I had said goodbye to my beloved companion but then this beautiful creature showed up to remind me that I wasn’t alone and the circle of life is everlasting.