Sometimes a closer look at death can demystify it. The garden spiders are dying now, in droves. I found this one in the greenhouse this morning, and brought it in for Lucas to examine. He took it to his bed and laid it on his pillow in a beam of light. I helped him move it back and forth as he got his first real close-up look at the object of his months-long fascination. A fragment of webbing could still be seen emerging in her spinarettes, enough to anchor to the web until her dead weight snapped it. Her tiny black eyes, the miniscule fangs that brought a season of death to unwary insects who entered her web, spiky black hairs on her eight jointed legs. The abdomen left flattened and saggy after expelling eggs into a silken sac now anchored to the greenhouse wall. Hundreds of them dot our property now, the eggs inside waiting for some secret signal to develop and emerge.
"Are you sad?" I asked Lucas as we examined the spider.
"No," he said after a moment. "I think she's sad. She died when it got too cold."
She didn't look sad to me, but who knows. A child's eyes see what we miss. If I were to die, I would be sad not so much for my own demise, but because it would take me away from my family. I think about that sometimes, more often since a health scare I had last year.
Suspect commented after my last post that spiders are simple creatures incapable of anticipating or worrying about their own deaths. He says that's why spiders build webs and we, being more complex, build grander things, like the Great Wall of China.
I've studied spiders and would respectfully argue that building something like the Great Wall of China is perhaps easier that building a web. Man has yet to figure out how to make a material so thin but so strong as a strand of spider silk. Or to pass along the skill so dispassionately as they fade away, neither demanding nor expecting accolades for their short life's work.
Would I trade spaces with the spider? No. I admire them, but I don't envy them their existence. My fear of loss and leaving is a byproduct of my love. Detatchment is valuable in some areas, but not when it comes to one's family. Life for humans is like licking honey off a thorn. We have to take the sharp with the sweet, and the pain of parting is the price we pay for the joy we find in the company of others.
The web of life is diferent for us all.