Sophie brought three fiddler crabs home from school last week. Her class had been studying them and they needed homes. They’re small and fragile little critters, far from their natural habitat. Two of them are thriving. The third died last night for no apparent reason. Her name was Freshman. We buried her in a matchbox under the butterfly bush in the back yard. Sophie decorated the conch shell in the picture to use as a tombstone. Sea critter and whatnot. She asked me to keep a candle by it for a while after the sun went down in order to ease the transition into the cold. Or something like that.
Sophie loves fragile things. Delicate clothes that tax my Neanderthal rock-down-in-the-creek washing talents. Antique dishes and flowers made of tissue paper. Puppy dogs. Her Daddy’s heart. All things she can handle daily without ever breaking any of them. Yet, she completely fell apart when that crab died. And her falling apart jostled her Daddy’s fragile heart.
So I worried. And thought. And worried more. This world is full of fragile little critters that we might get attached to. All too often they end up claiming big stakes in big hearts in spite of having no real estate to offer the big heart in return. The big heart has much to lose and the little critter has little to lose. In fact, most of the little critters scurrying around out there probably have no idea how many wounds they inflict on the big hearts they cross paths with.
Gentle fabrics can be handled with care. Antique dishes and tissue paper flowers can be replaced.
Puppy dogs and Daddies can love you back, and will do so unequivocally in spite of the potential for getting broken. It’s not that fiddler crabs don’t love Sophie. It’s that they can’t. This was my failing. If Sophie got her heart broken because we lost a family pet that gave her years of love in return for her own, well… I’d still be sad with her, but I wouldn’t be sad for her.
That’s what I still need to teach her. Some critters can’t love you back, in spite of the appearance that they can. I think this will be easy to explain in the context of fiddler crabs. How to determine which human critters can and can’t love you back? I’m open to suggestions.
Not that, I suppose, it matters much. Sophie is no less likely to love fiddler crabs or lizards or butterflies simply because they can’t love her back. These are all fragile things that require care and a gentle hand, and in Sophie’s eyes, are worthy of love.
I was going to, at this point in the story, go into a long ramble about how to determine which things can love you back, and therefore which part of your heart to love which type of critter or thing with. Then I realized that this is one of the things about being a grownup that has happened to us as we’ve survived our years, not something that we would have ever chosen to do to ourselves. Compartmentalize and shield our hearts.
I may not be able to go back and uncompartmentalize mine, but I don’t have to rush Sophie’s. I believe this is one of those times I may just say nary a thing to her on the issue, aside from the appropriate condolences.
See? Earlier today I was limping along trying to figure out a way to keep her from getting her heart broken again in this same way. Now that I overthought it through to death, I envy her. Well done, Baby. You love those critters as long as your heart lets you. I’ll bury the bodies and light the candles for you if things go sour.
Cheers from The www.ThreeFiveZero.com Compartments