by Carmen H Gray
Monarch larva go through five instars between molting. Each time, after molting, the new skin is vulnerable, with little protection, eventually hardening until the caterpillar again becomes too large for its skin and it molts again. This is the period of greatest growth in its lifetime. After the fifth instar, the pupal stage begins, changing at this time into its mature state. At this final state of being, a monarch butterfly will only live 2-5 weeks, with the exception of the 4th generation adults, which will start in Canada and migrate over 2,000 miles south to Mexico. The survivors of this specific group will live the longest: 8-9 months.
These facts from my lesson in my classroom recently were the thoughts swimming in my mind today at the courthouse. I had spent a few days in summer at the law library, where I had drawn together the paperwork for the next chapter in my life. Free advice from attorneys and thousands of law books were there to help guide me through the litigious verbage.
I looked around the courtroom this fall morning. There were a the handful of people present: an elegant African woman with her thick hair piled atop her head, a humble woman in jeans and a tee-shirt, and a couple. The African woman’s case was called first. She was from Ghana and had been living as a single mother since 2011 with her daughter. The husband had left and was living back in Ghana. She was at last being granted her divorce from him. Her attorney helped her understand the convoluted language. Off she went after the hearing, a proud and strong single woman.
Next, the jeans and tee-shirt woman was called forward. She was respresenting her case, like I would be doing. The judge granted her the divorce and off she went, a new woman with a new name.
I had conferred with the volunteer attorney when I first arrived to ensure my documents were in proper order and signatures were in place. It had been a painful process. The leaver and the left both grieve in their own ways the ending of a relationship. Most people take a side with one or the other, depending on their own personal experiences. It is a human thing to do. No one sees everything, no one knows everything, yet people naturally take sides. Among the myriad lessons learned during this past year, practicing non-judgement is probably the one which will stay with me the longest.
I watched as the wife of the couple teared up, I handed her some kleenex and said a little prayer in my head for her-that she would find comfort and release in her situation, however and whatever it was. As they walked off to consult with the same attorney who had looked over my paperwork, the judge called me forward. She had kind eyes. I was sworn in and she asked me the same questions as the women before me. When she said the names of my children, my heart lept and a smile opened up on my face. Just hearing their names lit me up and the judge smiled at that reaction. After all, this was an official place of endings, tears, heartache, failures, letting go. She wished me, my children and my ex-husband the best of luck.
What is failure? Failure is disentegration, breakdown. It is an essential aspect of living, molting, changing, evolving. And off she went.