“But you’ll never, you’ll never know.” ~Stockton Gala Days, 10,000 Maniacs
I never really liked this park. Through the maze of powder-coated white metal railings and the turns of bright blue playground slides, it was always so hard to find my children. I would lose them, usually just one at a time, if just for a few seconds. The panic, the uprising of fear, the hot flashes through my insides, all greet me again in their familiar unwelcome, pointing always to the greater losses that I have known.
Now I watch from afar, as with so many other endeavors here on earth. I can see both of the little boys, and I hear the stomping of their feet, one boy in his new winter boots and the other wearing soon-to-be-handed down gym shoes. The boy in boots is happy today. His brother calls out insults and expresses his angst in ways that might cause others at the park to shoot judging eyes. They don’t know, though, that I am watching from the car as the seasoned therapist keeps track of the boys while they navigate the tangle of ramps and arches. For an hour, I can literally sit in the back seat.
At the end of last week, I did my best to prepare my bees for winter. I had fumbled through my first season, guided in voice by a couple of wise, experienced beekeepers. In addition to the counsel, there were books, club meetings, YouTube videos, and virtual groups to offer answers to questions that I did not yet have. The real teaching, though, took place in the field. That’s where I learned the value of quiet, the depth of respect, the joyful magic of the harvest, and the fallout from trying to do too much. That’s where I learned that you can cut deeply without feeling the pain, but that it is the red blood that bears the secrets. As I reflect on the season full of so many “little things,” I wonder if they will really make a difference in the end.
Beekeeping, like parenting, is a monumental task. After one year or thirty-one years, we can stand high as a mountain or fall to our knees. The bees sting, just as the child reacts violently in the face of fear. A small bee lands on my gloved finger; my child sits alongside me in my chair. The ethereal majesty and the pain of defeat swirl together as smoke from my stainless smoker. We tend to our bees and raise our children. Sometimes, inexplicably, they leave us: sometimes just for moments, but sometimes for the rest of time. Deep down inside, though we may speculate, we will never really understand why.
The boys come to find me in the car. One climbs through the open window. He doesn’t seem angry anymore; at least not for now. We are a little better than we were an hour ago, and I am reminded that we cannot be alone in this. The bees work in harmony. The worker bees are many. We need others to carry on: therapists, teachers, and people who care. I know there will be seasons when my bees don’t produce honey to share and seasons where they don’t make it through the long winter. Both colonies are here today, though, as I look to the season of giving, when I know that I will see some of my grown children that have not been home in a long time, and I know that through all that is hard, there is hope for the springtime.
abscond: to leave hurriedly and secretly
~New Oxford American Dictionary