Cobwebs in December

By Catherine Lee

It feels like a losing battle.

Grief is like cobwebs: I am always running into stray bits stretched across my backdoor. No matter how often I attack the baseboards or upper corners of the living room, reaching my broom and duster, no matter how proficient I become at managing my daily domestic tasks I am bound to find new constructs in unexpected places—or even right out in the open for everyone to see. Sometimes the house spiders work in broad daylight, putting on a show. Shameless. Often, they are busy at night when others are sleeping, anxious spinners. Perhaps they are insomniacs, too?

“We’re hanging by a thread, here.” That’s what the grieving say, on the days we can speak.

The other day, I watched a spider crawling dutifully across the floor. I wiped the clingy residue of her work across my jeans and waited. She paused in the corner, leapt, and began again, a single cord flying out behind her.

And I remembered the strength of those strands, comparable to steel. Ductile: able to stretch up to five times their relaxed length, all without breaking. Could there be hope in silken, sticky lattices?

I need someone to grope through the dark alongside me. When the time is right, to shine a light, like a flashlight on cobwebs in the forest. For it doesn’t take much light in the deep dark for even the thinnest threads to become visible. Visible with the kind of beauty that makes you shout, call another friend over to marvel at the delicate, complex, strong threads that you find weaved across my expanse. Celebrating life-in-death together.

This year I will keep my cobweb decorations up past Halloween, invite spiders to my table, deck my holiday halls with silvery nets of pure grace. Even the thinnest threads hold fast, multiply when I’m not looking. I will trust in signs that I remained tethered to life—and to others—even in the face of death.

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