In England many things have different names than what I’ve grown up with in America. Here, ladybugs are called ladybirds. Farmers and gardeners love them because they eat up the aphids that threaten the plants they labor to raise, but ladybugs have a different reason for being special to me.
If you’ve read any of my writings at my old blog you may remember my friend Marty who I wrote about here. He was an important teacher for me in many ways. In fact, I would have to say that much of what I learned from talks with him such as why he made certain decisions in his own life, had a great influence on some key decisions I’ve made in my own.
Marty died of melanoma while we were next door neighbors and his decline was difficult to watch. He impressed me with his wisdom in the way that he lived and without knowing, he left a last lesson for me after his death. A short time after he died, I was talking with David, who had been his life partner for 14 years, about finding love. David told me a story that Marty had told to him when they were discussing David’s future life without Marty. David is one of the kindest, sweetest, souls you can imagine and Marty was worried someone might try to take advantage of him later when he was alone with his grief. Marty spoke of his concerns that his status as a physician might bring out those less interested in David and more interested in his position in the community.
So it was in a way that was so uniquely Marty, he told David the ladybug story that David later told me when we talked of how love finds us. As I remember it, but perhaps not exactly as was told, Marty said words to this effect, ” When the day is beautiful and the weather too perfect for words, you decide to go on a hunt for a ladybug. So you take yourself to your favorite meadow and search and search everywhere looking for the tiny red and black creatures. You look high and low even bringing out a magnifying glass as you try as hard as you can to spot the tiny winged bugs that contrast so brightly with the green of new leaves and grasses.
When you’ve worn yourself out with a slightly desperate search for your ladybug, you stop to rest, unrolling the quilt you dropped in the grassy meadow a few hours earlier and you sit and enjoy the light breeze that keeps the day from being too hot. Feeling thirsty from your labors, you open a bottle of your favorite wine and take out a little package of cheese and crackers and you drink and eat until you feel quite satisfied. Listening to the soft hum of the insects buzzing around you, you begin to feel sleepy as the sun warms your quilt and the wine soothes your busy thoughts to a calmer, slower pace. Lying back on the quilt you close your eyes and you sleep, a peaceful, restful sleep with dreams you can’t quite remember. Waking slowly from your summer dreams, you notice your hand lying on the worn patchwork fabric of your grandmother’s quilt and on your hand, sitting very still, you see a tiny red ladybug covered in spots.”
I don’t think I need to explain the moral of his story…that real love comes to us only when we are ready inside and not when we search for it with the desperation of the hunt… for the ladybug or for love.