Selam’s school put on Charlotte’s web. I had planned on taking her to the matinee, but she begged to go to the Friday night performance. She heard something special was happening (and indeed there was, the retiring principal had a cameo–the kids went crazy.) The play was very well done–there are a few very talented kids in that group (it was the 3rd through 8th graders that did the show) and it was at the high school where they have a great wireless microphone system, which meant that I didn’t have to cringe at the sound of young voices belting badly.
But, the show was long. It started late. Really late. And the intermission was far more than 15 minutes. So, the 7 pm start time show ended at 10.
She was pretty good. She had a lot of questions of course, and had some trouble seeing, but I thought she was age appropriate. She insisted on sitting next to her kindergarten teacher who we never saw again after intermission. Come to think of it, the people in the row in front of us disappeared, too. could be a coincidence.
I had hoped she’d fall asleep before the end. She didn’t. So she was very, very tired by the time Charlotte died. As we walked back to the car, she cried and cried about Charlotte dying. I carried her to the car, and explained that Charlotte’s body was just so tired from making all those words for Wilbur. “Why did she do that if she knew it would make her really tired?” “Because she loved him and wanted to save him.”
We talked about Charlotte’s babies and how they would live on and remind everyone of how wonderful Charlotte was; how every time someone saw one of the little spiders they would see Charlotte.
“Just like, ” I said, “after M died, we have you to remember how wonderful she must have been.”
Luckily she was asleep by the time I finished that particular comment, because I was sobbing then myself, thinking about an undoubtedly beautiful woman in a far off place who certainly would have lived a lot longer had she not spilled out the dredges of her health to ensure the survival of a certain and amazing brown-eyed girl who now slept on my shoulder.
Love is a mystery. It’s as amazing as life and practical as brown shoes. I don’t pretend to understand it.
When I pulled the car into a spot on our street, Selam woke up.
“Rock star parking,” she mumbled.
Hand in hand, we walked into the apartment building.
“I really wish Charlotte didn’t die. But I’m glad that her babies lived. I hope they are nice to pigs.”
I put the key in the lock.
“I think tonight I need to snuggle in your bed with you,” she said.
I nodded and led her to her room, where a pile of clean pajamas waited in the bottom drawer.
I love her.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web