I usually don’t post personal stories about myself on my blog. I much prefer the made up ones. They’re more interesting. 😉 But not today. My grandfather died four days ago, and I would like to share a story about how God loved my son through a Boxelder bug.
“I embarrassed myself at school today,” my eleven year old son announced, before I could greet him with the standard, “Hey, O, how was your day?”
My stomach tightened into that motherly knot as I prepared for what he’d say. “What happened, buddy?”
He looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes and that defiant cock of his head he gets whenever he tries not to cry. “I was in music class today and I saved a Boxelder bug from drowning. I held it during class, and it was climbing around on arm, happy to alive.”
Okay, ick… But then he paused, and I knew the story was going to take a turn for the worse. “Then when happened,” I encouraged.
“Then this girl at school, Makayla, walked past me. She hit my arm and knocked the bug on the floor and began stomping on it. I thought about how I saved a life and then she took it. It made me think of Grandpa and how his life is gone now.” Tears filled his eyes; his voice cracked. “He’s never coming back. And everyone at school saw me crying. They think I cried over a bug, but it’s not about the bug. It’s about Grandpa.”
We talked about what happened, about Grandpa, and I tried to put my motherly band-aid over his emotional wound the best I could.
The next day we went to grandpa’s funeral. Admittedly, I was still troubled by my son’s story and I could tell he was, too. I guess when we grieve, it comes out in funny ways sometimes.
Before the service started, the pastor had us all gather into the library to share our memories of Grandpa. My son and I were sitting in a chair together, and as the family was talking, I happened to look down and noticed and little Boxelder bug crawling across the floor. My heart warmed, and a still, small voice inside me stirred. It’s okay. Grandpa’s okay… Fighting back my own tears, I whispered, “Hey, O, look over there. See that Boxelder bug?”
He looked up at me and tears filled his eyes. With a sad smile, he said, “I really needed that, Mom.”
After a moment, we went back to reminiscing. Then the thought occurred to me, Oh, man, when we get up to leave this room, someone’s going to step on that bug. It was a big room, and the bug wasn’t moving very fast. Then I’m thinking, Oh, crap, I’m going to have to pick up that bug before we leave. I glanced back down to see how far it’d gotten. The bug was gone. My son and I discretely looked for it, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Several times that day, my son would look up at me and share a private grin. “I really needed that,” he’d whisper.
So did I, honey. So did I…
For some of you reading this story, it may seem like an unimportant coincidence. But you have to understand, finding a Boxelder bug in the middle of January, in Minnesota, rarely happens. It’s even more rare to find two in as many days. That I happened to look down and notice that bug when I did… What are the odds? Sixty seconds later it was gone and not seen again. But most of all, it’s the impression a simple thing leaves on our hearts that tells us when we’ve been touched by God. It’s those subtle things that we can easily overlook or dismiss as coincidence that just might be God saying, “I’m here. I understand. It’s okay…”