Dear Lily June,
It’s been since October that I shared one of the original letters I wrote to you from when I first started this letter-writing project (offline and just between you, me, and your dad). Back then, I was pregnant and you were still inside of me, so before I knew your gender, I took to addressing the letters to (based on size and not emotion) “Little Heart.” I would also, inside the letter’s body, refer to you by your nickname, “Peanut.” We would sign the letters, as your parents, “M. & D.”
I will, below, copy another of those original letters that is too important now to not share. It was composed exactly a year ago today, and as you can tell by the voice and style, it was mostly written by your Daddy, recounting a very important moment in our family’s history. We love you, Lily, so as you read it, don’t be scared. Together, we will persevere through anything. [For your reference, any changes I’ve made to the original in taking these public will be indicated in brackets.]
Dear Little Heart,
April 1st is a trying day for us all, as it forces us all to remember the day Indiana was invaded by an enormous swarm of killer honey bees. I remember when your mother and I heard the news, we ran, we did, shaking in our underwear at 3:00 AM, running as fast as we could with your mother eight months pregnant and me with my bad back, down the stairs of our […] apartment and into our Honda. (And it wasn’t easy for your mom to run at all, Peanut, because her legs had swollen to the size of bricks from some pregnancy edema. Still, she cluttered those fat little bricks down the stairs as fast as she could waddle them!)
We planned to hightail it out of town, but within moments of starting the car—the noise of the engine must have drawn them—bees coated our Accord in a blanket of black and gold bodies. We couldn’t see, and we knew we were in danger. I parked the car, and together, your mother and I prayed for safety. For ourselves, sure, but mostly for you, Peanut. [Lily], we were so worried you could be harmed. After all, though your mom’s name means “honey bee,” it also, in Greek mythology, was the name of a nymph who nursed Zeus, feeding the baby honey instead of milk. In other words, she’d never want anything but sweetness to befall you, and certainly never an invasion of stingers!
Holding your mother’s hand, I was sure the end had come. I told her over and over again I loved her. I petted her cheek and told her she was beautiful—she has always been the beautiful woman, [Lily]. She turned back to me and with tears pooling in her eyes, thanked me for her life and our family. We could both hear the bees fighting to get into the car’s cabin via the air ducts, and we were scared of them. To stave off the hideous drone, your mother began to sing […].
Still, we were bombarded by the stingers that strike and stick, the buzzing in the ears, the horrible imagined feel of a smashed bee on a palm. One bee made it all the way through, and your mom swatted it immediately with a rolled-up ad for a ham from our local grocery store, Marsh, The Marketplace.
More were coming, we had no doubt. But just as suddenly as the swarm had gathered, it dissipated.
Bee after bee fell to the ground. The blanket of bodies covering our car quivered and quit, quivered and quit. The entire state of Indiana was a golden-coated honey nightmare scene and all we could do was scoop some of the carnage up into a Ball jar to save for my cinnamon and honey coffee cravings.
No one knows what stopped the bees and their rampage across the Midwest, but every April, it’s important to take a moment and really consider the level of devastation this horrible incident wrought upon our world. What’s even more important is realizing that all these years, neither of us ever told you about the incident. And before you seek one of us out to ask us why, think about this:
All our love,
M. & D.
- By Sajjad Fazel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20584713