Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Life, Love, and Loss

The kids and I were playing in the living room this morning when they made a most fascinating discovery. There was a big, colorful grasshopper just outside on the screened-in porch, and he was putting on quite the show. He did a little ceiling-walking and displayed some very impressive high jumps as he tried to figure his way out of the contained space. Of course they all ran for the back door so they could try to catch Jumper and keep him for a while in a plastic storage container (while I grabbed my ultra-zoom lens so I wouldn't have to get anywhere near him for a picture).

We spent a while talking about the fact that grasshoppers are insects and that one of the characteristics of insects is that they have two antennae and six legs. We all got real close to the container and counted the little guy's legs together.

When we were counting his antennae, he started to scoot out of his container toward my hand, and I lost any semblance of Wise Teacher when I threw the bowl and ran into the house squealing something to the effect of "His antler touched me!"

Needless to say, he got loose. They caught him again -- he escaped again. (Please excuse the unclothed ones...I had just wrapped up a marathon dirty diaper session before the kids discovered Jumper.)

Actually, the little two cheered Abby on as she did all the work. They didn't want much hands-on involvement, but they sure enjoyed watching the show. Check out Jack's face...

At one point, the little grasshopper got between some of the slats on the porch, and I was worried Abby would squish him while she was trying to catch him with her bowl... I suggested she try to pick him up with her hands rather than smash the bowl in there to capture him. Much to my surprise (and slight disgust), that's just what she did.

Knowing exactly what happened here is key to understanding how the rest of this story played out. Take a good look at this picture...

If you look really closely, you can see that one of the grasshopper's antennae is pointing north while the other is pointing east. Not good. But worse than that is that one of his big jumping legs in the back is no longer visible. It was still there -- I'm afraid it was just a bit damaged.

Abby was completely clueless about all of this. She was just so excited to be spending some one-on-one time with her new friend. I told her we should probably put him back in the bowl to give him a break, so while she got him situated, I went in to put my camera away.

That's when I heard the wailing.

I ran back outside (with camera still in hand) to find Abby holding the container right up to her face and crying, "I'm sorry, little guy. I'm so, so sorry!" Apparently, Jack wanted to play with Abby, so he grabbed her dress and started running in circles. Abby was trying to hold the bowl steady, but unfortunately, Jack's sudden burst of activity was a bit much for Jumper.

And he lost the leg.

Centrifugal force is no laughing matter, people.

Abby's been particularly sensitive to people with leg injuries or people in wheelchairs for any reason since Josh's accident in February. But this just about did her in. A broken leg is one thing, but a completely missing, disconnected leg is a whole different ballgame.

I first chose not to take any pictures of this part of the story, but one of the qualities we love so much about Abby is her deep compassion for those who are hurting. So I decided to grab these two quick shots to capture that precious part of her heart (not because of my photographic OCDness!)

My heart was just breaking for her, so I told her something that, at the time, I thought was true. Now that I think about it, though, I might have made this up.

I told her not to worry one bit about Jumper's would just grow right back. Hey, if lizards can do it with their tails, surely grasshoppers can do it with their legs.



Anonymous said...

What an incredilby compassionate spirit our little Abigail has been given! Wonder to where in life this particular attribute will lead her?
Mom/Nana (or Nanny-this week!)

Anna said...

poor baby girl! break my heart! she has such a sweet spirit! i'm quite certain that in this case, whether it be true in all cases or not, that this grasshopper will in fact regrow it's leg...whether here on earth or in grasshopper heaven ;)

Aunt Libby said...

Oh, how sweet. Compassionate little Abby. That photo just breaks your heart.

Aunt Libby