Star light, star bright


An ordinary ending to a day which began as many probably do, for many people, all over the world. Meaning, with the breathtakingly unexpected.  

As I watch my daughter dance after dinner to  Swan Lake, (here, Suite 4: Scene (White Swan), I know (again) how profoundly fortunate I am for the existence of her, of her brother, and of my beloved. Likewise I know they are fortunate for my continued existence.  I don’t tend to think my continued existence is predicated on a great deal more than chance.  But for that, so far, I am thankful.  There but for the grace of God.

The camera body and the lens I took this picture with are both on loan from a dear friend, who herself received them from a dear friend who had died of cancer with six short months’ notice.  Many get far less notice than that.  

Every day I look through Barbara’s lens at my children, and now (’til mine is fixed) I am holding Barbara’s body, too.  I have no idea what to do with that fact, but the symbolism is not lost on me.  At the very least, I try to appreciate the gift.  And what it reminds me of.  

After attending Barbara’s memorial, I wrote:

 I realize that death is, at the very least, camped out in a van across the street, eating donuts and sipping cheap coffee. More likely it’s sitting quietly in every room of the house, discreetly reading the paper, looking up from time to time to cast a watchful eye on the proceedings. Waiting for whomever, whenever.

This realization doesn’t make me more lugubrious. It makes me more loving. I don’t feel morbid; just mindful. And grateful.

Tonight, as I was tucking in my daughter, I added a new twist to the rhetorical question I constantly ask the kids.  

“How much do I love you?” I ask her.

“Sooooooo much,” she answers.  

“And how long will I love you?”

She pauses only as long as it takes for her eye to twinkle. “Forever!”

And I nod long and slow and serious. 

“Will you still remember me when you’re a star, Baba?”

And I nod again, long and slow, and also smile. “Absolutely.”  Which is the God’s honest truth. I know this for a fact.

She asks me how I know, and I tell her. “My mother lets me know,” I say. (“How?”) “I hear her here” — I touch my fingers to my temple — “and feel her here” — and I touch my palm to my heart.

Her eyes twinkle again, and she smiles wide, and says, “You’ll be the first star I see at night.”

It is hypothetical/magical to her, I imagine. Not so to me.  I continue to smile, and nod long and slow. One day, that star — the one which was once my mother to me, then my nephew; the one which to my daughter is our dear old dog, now gone — one day, that star will be me.  I try in my ways to prepare her, her brother, and my beloved for the breathtakingly unexpected (a task which forgetfulness makes Sisyphean). All I can really hope for, as Mary Oliver writes, is this:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was
a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” 


8 thoughts on “Star light, star bright”

  1. I swear you bring me near tears at least once a week. Sometimes with your words (such as with this post), sometimes with your unique take on what we all encounter throughout our lives, and then other times with the most incredible photos of your family. Thank you.

  2. It is not often I can read printed words and have them convey to me the intensity of the love I have for my child. Your words did just that and brought grateful tears to my eyes. After reading this, I now believe it is possible for someone else to love their child as much as I love mine. Now I love you even more. Thanks. This is the reason I keep coming back for more.

    PS – Good on you for writing about the pretty flowers in front of the burning house. (I am paraphrasing, as I can’t find the original post where you first said it.)

    • Thank you both, Blazer and dimplecheek. I am very honored. I am absolutely certain that any given deep feeling any of us has (sorrow, gratitude, dread, wonder) is shared by someone, somewhere. I am so glad to know we are there, feeling together.

      And dimplecheek: thank you, re: the flowers (metaphor appeared here). I suppose it’s a tribute to their brilliance that sometimes they outshine even the most spectacular blaze right behind them.

  3. tears flowing. the intense love you have for your children is heart-bursting. your words make mine burst with love as well. i’ll go kiss my babies again now.

    • Thank you, schmutzie, thank you mommymae. Eventually I think I’ll write more, but for the moment, suffice to say: death (again). Sudden, utterly unexpected. A dear, old friend, beloved (at the zenith of love’s arc; every cell vibrating) of an even dearer friend. So every breath is indeed much noted, wherever it is.

      Thank you. And do kiss those babies.

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