I first saw her in the bathroom, seated on the bristles of my husband's toothbrush. We laughed about her choice of perch. She was coaxed with a fingertip onto the marble vanity, where she seemed content to remain for several days, exploring its surface from one side to the other.
The sighting of a ladybug in our house in the Fall is not unusual. Dozens of them appear inside the windows this time of year - and again in the Spring. They are harmless, and, because they have a good luck tradition attached to them, we tolerate the few days they inhabit.
But this one had stayed long after the others had disappeared to wherever ladybugs go for the winter. It became my habit to look for her whenever I was in there, greeting her like an old friend. There was something about seeing her there that was stabilizing.
I named her Lizzie. Silly to name a bug, but it seemed right, if I were going to talk to her, that I should be able to address her properly. Why "Lizzie"? The alliteration with "ladybug", I suppose, is obvious. My middle name is Elizabeth so it may have naturally stemmed from there as well. I didn't think much about it; it was just an
After about a week, she became a member of the family, so I was bothered when she wasn't in her accustomed place on the bathroom vanity one morning. I searched and discovered her on the glass brick window. She was crawling about and content. The next morning, she had returned to the vanity, but I had to hunt for her again a few days later. But this time I didn't find her.
I did a search of "ladybug" online to research their habitats and life cycles. I learned that they can live up to two years, so my fear that she had already played out a short life span were averted. I also noted that they like moist atmospheres which made sense of her bathroom home.
It was strange that I had become so attached to a tiny creature who eats aphids off my rosebushes in the warm months. I couldn't fathom why my inability to locate her was so disturbing. I only know that, when she turned up the next day on the kitchen counter (next to the coffeemaker), I was happy to see her and admonished her for worrying me.
It's been several weeks and Lizzie now explores all rooms of the house. This morning, when I awoke, she was on the wall next to my bed. I watched her explore all the way to the ceiling and around the room. As I lay there watching her, my mind searched again for the reason why this miniscule ball of red and black adds value to my life just now.
I do know that these scary economic times weigh on my mind far too much. My son's job layoff, my husband having jobs postponed because of clients' economic fears, the growing pile of bills that occupy my desk, and the constant media barrage about the world's financial woes make it almost impossible not to think about it all the time.
It occurred to me this morning that maybe Lizzie is my source of calm in an ever-gathering storm of uncertainty. She represents a constancy, a visible presence to remind me to stay focused on the things in my life that are most important, to persevere, to remain optimistic in a sea of dread.
I feel inclined to accept that answer. That's why Lizzie is in my life. It's working for me. So, "thanks little bug" for planting the seeds of hopefulness in my brain. Long after you're gone, I think they'll still be growing.