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The (Unofficial) Obituary of Howard Beetle

By March 17, 2021April 26th, 2024No Comments

Howard Beetle passed away on June 17, 2020 on top of a bathroom sink. He was a longhorn beetle and an Iowa forest native. As an egg, his prolific mama had left him and his siblings to hatch and fend for themselves on a nice juicy leaf.

Howard was a cute, little larva who ate massive quantities of plant material, rotten wood, spare animal fibers, and a few of his buddies (on accident, of course.) He shed his exoskeleton a whopping 10 times. Just before entering his pupal stage, Howard formed a rock band, known as ‘The Real Beetles.’ The band’s single “Hey Stew” quickly topped insect music charts across the Midwest.

Upon emergence as an adult beetle, Howard opened Famous Bug’s BBQ, a 5 star diner, featuring a ‘Grubs & Slugs Combo.’ He also enjoyed tree climbing and flexing his mandibles to impress the ladies.

Howard’s survivors include thousands (maybe even millions) of children and grandchildren…he was ‘prolific’ just like his sweet mama…(but let’s not think about that!)

According to his wishes, Howard has been deposited in his favorite wildflower meadow.

Rest in peace, Howard.


One year ago today, I was looking out my window at barren trees and a gloomy gray sky. In my old and beloved tattered robe, I tried to enjoy a cup of tea—tried and failed. Anxiety and fear sat with me on the couch. I couldn’t stand their company, but I felt almost powerless to get rid of them.

What’s a pandemic anyway?

I had to look it up.

This morning, I was looking out my window at barren trees and a gloomy gray sky. In my old and beloved tattered robe, I enjoyed a cup of tea. My puppy Hallie sat with me on the couch.

Anxiety and fear still make an occasional appearance, but they never stay long. I banish them. I am not powerless anymore.

What a difference a year can make.

I once wrote that ‘joy and sorrow live side-by-side in the world, and we must meet them both.’ The words sure sounded good and maybe even profound, but what did I know? I wasn’t very far down the road of life.

Enter a global pandemic—sorrows of every size and shape. I am reminded of these poignant words:

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 56:8

God cares a great deal about our sorrow.

For some bizarre reason, when I found ‘Howard’ last June on my bathroom sink, I was overcome with sadness. Lying alone and dead, he was an outward expression of my inner sorrow. And though he was just one little bug, God had taken the time to create him and had given him a role to play in this great big universe. I mourned for him. I mourned for myself and for the rest of the planet. I even felt I needed to write an obituary…for a dead bug. (I know. It’s ridiculous.)

We do need to mourn. We must mourn. It’s part of the healing process, but the human spirit can’t stay there forever. There has to be something else.

And there is:

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5b

And this:

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

 Ecclesiastes 3:4

Each day, we are one day closer to ‘the morning.’ I don’t know if the vaccines and herd immunity will end the pandemic. I don’t know if the new variants of the coronavirus will send us back into hiding and bring more sorrow, but I do know this now, one year later.

The joy of the LORD is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Dear friends, when your time of crying and grieving is over, however long it may last, I’m wishing you laughter and a crazy good dance with joy. The joy of the LORD can be your strength, too, if you want it.

Until next time…


Author Joy Cleveland writes Small Town Contemporary Christian Romances that will warm your heart, feed your soul, and quite possibly tickle 'your funny bone.' A product of small town living, Joy strives to craft characters that feel like family and places that feel like home. Currently, she calls Iowa home. When she's not tapping computer keys, she's playing with grandkids, mowing grass, or chasing her dog. A lover of words, she's published short stories, plays for children, and quirky newsletters. "To Call My Own' is her first novel.

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