Thursday, 19 May 2022

Love Bugs

Dr McClung has a very personal reflection on the death of his wife, faith, the afterlife, and lovebugs, which after mating, remain together, even in flight, for up to several days.

From The American Catholic

By Guy McClung, PhD, JD

With Karen gone, I no longer want to be here. It has been a year since she died in the hospital from a combination of cancer and the Chinese virus. Since I was sick at the time, I could not be with her. By what can only be called a miracle, and through the intervention of one of those rare persons you call “friend,” one of our sons and one daughter were allowed to enter her room four hours before she died and be with her.

We had that Romeo/Juliet love, love at first sight, love that “could not be reckoned,” to sum up: Dead Solid Perfect True Love.  We were blest to be with each other for over 50 years (although after we met in college we found out we had been in first grade together). It did not matter where we were or what we were doing – so long as we were together we were happy. And for most of the time, we were joyful, in the sense of full of joy, in each other’s presence. Smiling, hugging, laughing, doing nothing. When we were first married, we had very little; and, after my service in the Army, we survived in school on the GI Bill money, about $300/month; but it didn’t matter. We sang this to each other:

Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you, honey, and everything will bring the chain of love, and in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes and tell me everything is gonna be alright (Danny’s Song].

For decades we worked together in my solo practice, most days we got to eat all three meals together. For about the last dozen years before she died, working from home, I got to be with her most of most days. To say my life suddenly became empty is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground.

She is no longer here to trace the word “LOVE” on my palm in church, or the letters “BS” [baloney sausage!] when the sermon was bad. So, I don’t want to be here alone without her anymore. I know God has His plan, and I am not happy with it. “Thy will be done” is beyond difficult. I have never hugged or kissed God. I believe in Him and want to be with Him, but, even if it is heresy, I want to be with Karen. I thought about the tens of ten thousands of miles Karen sat with me in our truck and how I wish she was there next to me, praying the rosary, smiling, laughing, sleeping. I thought “Believe so you can understand – Really”? I either do not understand His taking Karen home to be with Him, or I do not want to understand it.

I was thinking the above thoughts last week as I drove home alone from south Texas where I had attended the end-of-the-year PTO program that included my beautiful  granddaughter, Eza Elizabeth, wearing a hula skirt, reciting three lines in the “Lovely Oceans” production. Her performance was outstanding, she seemed to me to be the star of the show, and this made the four-hundred-mile trip well worth it.

As I drove and all alone bewept my outcast state, troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries, and looking upon myself and cursing my fate  [my sincere apologies to Wm. Shakespeare],  the love bugs hit my windshield.

In a moment, about 150 died instantly, dismembered, liquefied. You could tell by the imprint and pattern of the splattered fluids, guts, and body parts on the windshield – imagine a mixture of guacamole, bananas, and cream of broccoli soup –   that many of them died happily, loving their mate (or the mate of the moment).

Lovebugs, Plecia nearctica, first appeared in the United States in Galveston, in the 1940s. Typically there are two generations per year in Texas with adults emerging in May and September. They are harmless and they do not sting or bite. They emerge for about four weeks and the adults live only three to five days. One thing you learn very quickly – do NOT turn on your wipers. If you do, the yellow-greenish gel will be spread all over your windshield like an opaque paste and your visibility will be cut to zero.

Looking at various patterns on the glass, I realized some of those love bugs died alone. I laughed out loud and said, “Thank you, God.”

I knew, theoretically, some years back that, if you believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God, and you knew His plans were always better than yours, it was somewhat of an insult to Him to ask Him “Why?” when things happened that were not how you wanted them to be or not what you had wished. With His love bugs, God reminded me of this.

I remembered the end of the Book of Job when, after teaching Job “I’m God, and you’re not,” God tells Job “OK, if you are now going to correct Me, do it.” But Job has learned well. He tells God “What can I answer You? I put my hand over my mouth.” Somehow these words of Job came to me, not out of the thunderstorm, not out of the whirlwind, and not out of the lighting, but out of the love bugs:

Then Job replied to the Lord:  “I know that you can do all things;  no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’   Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know (Job 42:1-3).

Then I realized part of God’s plan was that tens of thousands of the love bugs did not hit my windshield; and they still would live on, glorifying God and His creation for the rest of their lives.

It was easy for so much of my adult life to say, again and again, I believe this or that mystery. Trinity, incarnation, redemption, resurrection – each a piece of cake to believe. But now the mystery of life after death and eternal heaven are easier than all the rest. I am not yet to the point of not wishing it was otherwise, but God has brought me to a very real belief in eternity, and that what I now do here affects how I am there – and that it is possible to be with Karen (and Him) forever. Now, here, these are hard sayings; but I cannot and will not walk away.

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. ( Wm. Shakespeare)

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