Parable of the Hornet

One day my friend Scott and I found a hornet’s nest hanging from a tree in the woods behind the Apartment Complex we both lived in. Scott had the brilliant idea of finding a long stick so we could take turns whacking at it like a Piñata. And me being equally brilliant I went along with it.

Well during one of Scott’s whacks the hornet’s nest fell and broke in half. The wasps came out and immediately attacked the two of us. I don’t know how the wasps knew we were the enemy, but they did. No even instincts are stupid. They proved to be smarter than the both of us, and they were angry.

We both started running as fast as we could, but the hornets could fly just as fast if not faster and they covered us like rain, “Black Rain.”

We were both crying and screaming and me running blindly, afraid to open my eyes, for fear of being stung by a hornet in one of them. I was just moving on instinct trying to find my way out of the woods and back to the apartments until I fell into the creek that also ran thru the Woods.

It was only waist high but still deep enough to hide me, at least temporary, from the Wasps that circled above. The water was cold, murky, and filthy, but a huge comfort to the hot stings that surrounded my entire body like a fever.

The creek probably saved my life. I could hold my breath for a long time, and after about two minutes I jumped up and immediately started screaming and splashing assuming the hornets would still be here but they were gone. And then I looked for Scott. He was nearby, and as I waddled over to him and he was covered in red bumps that resembled ant-bites. and they were starting to swell.

“Scott, are you okay, I asked, not knowing what else to say.” I knew he wasn’t.

“I feel dizzy, Scott said.”

“C’mon, let me help get you get home, and I slung one of his arms around me and mine around him.”  He was afraid to go home because if he told his mom what he’d done, she would punish him.

I walked Scott all the way back to his apartment which thankfully was close to the Woods themselves. And when we walked in his mother took one at us and started screaming hysterically.

“Scott what happened she asked trying to get a response.

Scott didn’t answer. His lips his cheeks had swollen to twice their size. Scott was a heavy kid, but not unattractive, he was still huffing and puffing, and his face had swollen and distorted to cartoonish proportions.

Then she asked me, “Jason what happened, she asked hysterically.”

“We got stung by a nest of hornets walking thru the woods, I said.”

His mother called 9-11, so they could rush Scott to the hospital in an ambulance, then she put an ice-pack on Scott’s head. His mother had him take off his shirt, so he could breathe easier, and started rubbing

Chamomile lotion all over his chest and face.

Scott’s mother offered me the same and some Tylenol, but I told her that I was okay and that after the ambulance came I was going to going to take something at home instead. I wasn’t there at the time, but Scott had gone from bad to worse and on his way to the hospital he had stopped breathing in the ambulance and they had to feed Scott oxygen directly.

When Scott arrived at the hospital, the doctors took him immediately to the trauma center, and gave him a shot of Cortisone, a needle directly into his heart, and another drug I never heard of to neutralize the hornet’s venom, but it was too late, Scott had been stung so many times and he was so sensitive to the venom that it was lethal, and by the time the he arrived at the hospital, the doctors couldn’t revive him.

What the Hornet taught me about suffering.

Scott and I had both been stung roughly the same amount of times. But I wasn’t as sensitive to the venom like Scott so he died and I lived. And I thought about that, just because two people share the same measure of affliction, does not mean that they suffered the same. And that is true whether the person lives or dies.

There is no such thing as pain-equality, so after that, I learned to be a much more empathetic person to the pain and suffering of others in this world. I did not want Scott’s to death to be in vain, so please in memory of my friend, contemplate this.