After the stings comes the honey


People say that your whole life can change in an instant, and when it does, they tell you the mourning process won’t happen overnight. But at this point, I just want to make it through the day. It’s hard to believe a month has passed since the tragic loss of my stepdad Steve.

Fighting to move forward, it's taken every ounce of strength I own to crawl out of the engulfing black hole I’ve been existing in since the night I found out. Mourning taught me that grief will bring a gun to a fist fight – grief doesn’t ever play fair.

At its core, grief is a painful, personal, life-changing and intimate experience. As such, I made what peace I could with it and said my piece to “Papa Bear” in my last Op-Ed, which turned out to be valuable therapy. And, while stumbling through my day-to-day living, and doing my job, and just trying to regain some normalcy, I had a breakthrough about life.

Life is like being stung in the face by honeybees.

I’m not being pessimistic, promise; I just had bee stingers pierce my face last Friday. Let me rewind to how it all happened before I elaborate on this bizarre analogy and potential breakthrough.

I met Lisa Boudreaux in September of 2017 when she fled from Hurricane Irma to stay with our mutual friend Ross Harper (who now works at The Pioneer). When I interviewed Lisa for my “Where Ya Headed?” column, she said, “I like it so much, that I’m actually considering moving to Fort Stockton.”

She wasn’t bluffing. Within a matter of months, Lisa became a “Fort Stocktonite.” Last Friday she had a beekeeper, Scott Wassermann of Alpine, come to her new digs to do some serious bee removal. Of course I wanted to write a story and get some cool photos of a beekeeper in action. It’s just the Jeremy way.

With that said, Lisa and I closely watched the bee-capturing situation like a pair of kittens sitting in front of a fish tank. It would be an understatement to say we were captivated.

Intellectually, we both knew the swarm of honeybees came with the territory. The bees were literally bouncing off of us like hail. I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t afraid, mainly because I’m not allergic to them. I was in my journalistic element and ended up walking away with some excellent photos. But that’s not all I walked away with.

At the peak of my bravery, I decided to FaceTime (video call) my sister. It was pure braggadocio. I wanted her to see me unfazed by the looming cloud of honeybees that began to land all over me. The moment she answered the call, I let my guard down.

“Hey Jeremy, what are you doing?” she asked, as a honeybee landed on my nose. My reply was, “Aaah!! I’m getting stung by bees! Ashley! I’m serious! They’re stinging my face!”

Looking down at my phone, I could see my sister scrunching her eyebrows as I yelled and waved my only available arm.

“Are you okay?” hollered Lisa from the front of her yard as I ran around like a crazy man. During the incredibly long sprint to my car, I witnessed Lisa getting stung on her forehead.

She looked just like the Terminator, because a bee sting wouldn’t bother a cyborg assassin. She handled it like a champ! Me on the other hand, I looked like I was doing some sort of tribal rain dance.

I frantically wiped off all the bees I could and dived into my car. Safe and sound, I was confronted with silence, slight embarrassment, and massive relief. I’m not sure when my sister hung up on all my screaming, but I don’t blame her.

Moral of the story: Life is like being stung in the face by honeybees, because it only hurts for a brief moment. The pain eventually wears off and you slowly begin to feel normal again.

You won’t forget the pain. There will be some reminders that trigger your emotions when you least expect it.

For instance, Lisa and I sat down for espresso shots after the catastrophe and a fly swooped past my face. I sat up and scanned the area like an alarmed meerkat when I heard the sound of buzzing. When I realized it was just a fly, I sank back into my chair with a sigh of relief.

Going through difficult times tends to build character. You become appreciative of things you once took for granted. You have to get sick to appreciate the feeling of being well. You have to experience a cold rainy day to enjoy the warmth of the sun.

Not all hardships come with rewards, but mine did. After all the bees were corralled, there was a Tupperware full of honeycombs sitting on the tailgate of Lisa’s truck reserved for Jeremy Gonzalez.

The raw honey was like my Grammy for the day’s most dramatic response to a bee sting. Maybe it’s not such a bizarre analogy after all.

After the stings comes the honey.