on a bee and being

For long minutes one afternoon recently, I watched this tiny bee, writhing in some untold agony. The farm girl part of me said, “You should kill it, end its suffering, help it thus. That is the kindest thing you can do.” The rest of me resisted the truism. I trust and respect the farm girl and her reasoning, and I have heeded it many a time in my life before, but I could not kill this bee. Something about the struggle was too ferocious with life for me to intervene.

Instead I lifted it gently off the car dealer’s concrete drive (where chemicals rain down off chemically treated landscaping with abandon), laid it on my hemp bag, and sat there quietly watching. Death did not come gentle or swift. The bee fought to the very end, swiping one leg across its antennae, eye, and head repeatedly, in a vain effort at something I’m not bee-wise enough to fathom, much less name. There was something valiant in the struggle, though, and even the farm girl in me agreed: sometimes all we get to do in this world is bear witness. At the precise moment when the struggle ends, all of the losses ever—whether we knew them or not—stand toe to toe with the witnessing soul, intoning one message: we are never, ever alone in this gig we call life. Never.