The Night Sky


This week, as I walked the dog through my suburban neighborhood, I gazed up into the night sky to what seemed like an infinite number of stars spread out in haphazard fashion. It was as if someone took a large container, shook it, and twirled around and around peppering the heavens with glittering, wondrous lumonsity. I imagined Jackson Pollock filling his paintbrush with yellow stars, and frenetically splattering--the sky his empty canvas. I was delighted at first. I recalled moments of first love, wet grass under tippy toes, on a humid July night. I had glanced up into the same night sky filled with hope and longing for the future, staring into the eyes of a would-be soul mate who would never play such a role.

I recalled the same moon, I now marvelled at in my 40th year, through five-year-old eyes. I was once again in a pale blue Plymouth, circa 1980, as I hummed along to Eddie Rabbit crooning about rainy nights. I wondered if the same moon would follow me all the way home. I was surprised and delighted when it did. It was with some sadness that I woke up the following morning to a bright sun that, I was sure, had stolen my new found friend. The night sky had vanished and I was left with a paler version of daylight blue.

Years later I would stare at the same moon through a telsecope with my eldest child, as we studied and recorded the phases of the moon. The same sky connected our childhood experiences and once again, with utter amazement, I remembered with a combination of childish fear and awe, how insignificant and small I was. I understood as the stars made patterns and shapes, I was unable to recall and identify from middle school science, the vastness and unpredictability of the universe, of life.

I remembered lying on my back in the snow as I frantically waved my arms and legs with the boundless energy only a child knows. Snow angels made under the stars, after one of the worst blizzards in recorded history. The moon only a sliver of itself, in crescent form, shown off the white pacted powder providing just enough light to see.  

I remembered the same sky in 1983, as I listened to my brother, after he thought everyone slept, cry for the mother he had loved and lost, the one I had never known. I understood that she had once watched the same sky, and even then I understood that she wouldn’t ever again. I imagined her just beyond it in heaven, a place I was sure she had gone.

As I ventured back to the present, I walked past my driveway, and toward the end of the street, with the dog we had rescued. I whispered in a voice reminiscent of the one I imagine I wore as a young girl, “What are we all doing here, under this great and lonely sky?” It was the same question I had pondered since childhood. I wondered if somewhere on the other side, there sat a little girl peering through the blackness waiting to pluck us from this world into her own. I had imagined her again, as I once had when I was a girl. In my imagination, she was just like me.


Were we alone, I still questioned as I stood staring through my own windows into the home I had made and filled with children and memories. Lights revealed life and activity, a microcosm of the universe, one I created. For a moment, I stood outside separate. And then I glanced, once more, into the sky I had known for the entirety of my life and smiled. It was frightening and telling, filled with the memories, fears and hopes I had then, and still cling to now. The sky had changed little. It was a constant, and with that knowledge came comfort. I was a part of the vastness, and though I feared, questioned and was forever in awe of it, it was a part of me.


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**Image courtesy of Pixabay.


6 comments:

  1. Aw, beautiful reflections and I will say that it is times like these that definitely give me pause to think back on my youth and where I thought I'd be and where I am actually now, as well.

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  2. Beautiful descriptions! This made me reminisce about my childhood days of little-to-no responsibility and a sense of reckless abandon. I miss those days although I often find myself living vicariously through my childhood memories.

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  3. It does make you feel a bit smalle, doesn't it?

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  4. Love how you depict the night sky as the constant that unites all your memories & all the people you've been and roles you've served in your life.

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  5. So glad you are writing again, just beautiful.

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