-- Susan, every other Sunday
Murder is everywhere, but today I’d like to offer a story that proves that hope is, too.
The story of Weeble.
|Weeble, the night he joined the reef.|
I have a seahorse reef in my office, beside my writing desk:
Since 2010, I’ve kept seahorses and live corals, along with a few invertebrates and a couple of specialty fish. Seahorses have some special needs, and do best in a reef that’s tailored for them, so everything in my reef “plays nicely” with these odd and curious creatures that essentially drop dead at the smallest scratch.
In December 2014, I purchased four baby seahorses from a breeder in Florida (I don’t like taking them from the wild). Three arrived in good condition but one had an infection in his tail.
The sick little guy spent several weeks in a curled, miserable state on the bottom of a hospital tank. The last half-inch of his tail (the part seahorses use to grip and hang on to things) fell completely off, leaving the bone exposed.
|Normally, once a fish assumes "the position"...well, it's bad.|
He couldn't swim upright, and barely ate, and I accepted the inevitable…
...but this little seahorse didn't get the memo.
One Friday evening about a month into the little seahorse’s ordeal, my son came home from college for the weekend and asked for an update. When I told him the seahorse was still alive, he asked what I’d named it. I told him I wasn't planning to name it because I didn't want to get attached.
My son asked me if that was really fair.
"He's fought so hard," he said, "and he's so small. If he dies, and his life consists of nothing but this struggle, is it fair that he never even got to have a name?"
The following morning, my son asked "How's Weeble doing?"
It took me a minute to make the connection. "You named the seahorse Weeble?"
He smiled. "Exactly. Because he wobbles, but he won't fall down."
Miraculous as it seems, the minute Weeble got a name he started to recover. He started sitting vertically. His tail healed. (He'll never re-grow the part he lost, but he figured out how to use his stump of a tail to make a reasonably solid hitch.) Two weeks later, I put him into the reef, and the other seahorses gathered around him to welcome him into the herd.
|Weeble (front) and Magellan (who also has special needs--but that's a story for another day)|
Fourteen months later, Weeble remains a healthy, happy seahorse, and has no idea he's different from the others in any way.
|Stumpy tail, but determined attitude.|
Wherein lies a lesson: Sometimes, the lion’s share of success (or the seahorse’s, as the case may be) is simply refusing to accept the odds.
|WHO's not going to make it?|
Everyone has those short-tailed days when life has left you broken on the bottom, belly up and in despair. Sometimes, all the strength that's in you doesn’t seem enough to wiggle upright.
But sometimes, all it takes is the refusal to surrender and the determination to manage one more meal, one more day, and little by little your strength returns until you’re swimming along with strength you never knew you had.