A Caterpillar Named Bob

Feb 16, 2008

Julia Christensen - Springfield High School
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A caterpillar has sixteen legs, is separated into thirteen segments and has twelve eyes. They are common insects that are usually ignored, but could be considered one of the most comforting things to the right person. I believe in Bob the Caterpillar.

In the summer of 1999, my father began getting sick. By August, he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and was given a matter of weeks to live. Although I was only nine, I slowly began to fully understand the severity of my father's illness. Family members I had never met began flying in to say goodbye before he passed away. My mother randomly started crying. People began sleeping over, like my grandparents or aunts. And everyone was being oddly nice to little old me. I tried to mentally prepare for  the upcoming loss; I said "Goodbye" and "I love you" every time I left a room, just in case it would be the last. Despite all my efforts, when he tragically passed, I went into a state of discontent. My life was hazy and I secluded myself from everyone in an attempt to get away from the sorrow.

I carefully arranged them into a circle, making my own little hideaway where no one spoke of death or loss.

Since my father was a well-respected and popular man among the community, we received a wide variety of house plants. They all sat in our living room on the floor, waiting to be displayed in a more conventional manner. I carefully arranged them into a circle, making my own little hideaway where no one spoke of death or loss. All the plants were green and leafy; as a little girl, I couldn't help but wonder why everyone picked out what seemed to be such ugly vegetation.Then I noticed a glass vase holding a bouquet sunflowers. I rose to grab the flowers and bring them into my fort, but noticed a small bug sitting on one of the petals. It was a yellow caterpillar. I immediately picked him off, named him Bob, and found a proper home for him. 

For the next few days, Bob and I were inseparable. He didn't like it in the dark, lonely fort, so I took him outside to enjoy the sunlight. I would stick him on my shirt as we went on walks to find him new delicacies to munch on. When my friends came over to see how I was doing, I would introduce them to Bob and we would go on hunts to try to find him a wife. Before I knew it, I had stepped out of my haze and back into reality, accepting that my father had moved on to a better place and realizing that I didn't need Bob to survive. I released him back into nature, and have always held a special place for him in my heart. It is odd, but I truly believe a common insect is what made me myself again. I will forever be grateful.