It was a cold winter night. The girls were all sound asleep upstairs at mom’s house snug under the weight of her down comforters. I had just poured myself a cup of tea and stood by the window gazing into the dark night when I saw a shooting star. I grabbed my coat and called for John to join me outside. I found a place in the backyard and laid down on the cold damp grass in my pjs and winter coat and began counting shooting stars. I saw so many that night. Some that would shoot across the sky slowly, others that would burn out quickly and on occasion I would see two fall as the same rate.
When you grow up in a rural town and in a house surrounded by 15 acres of land, you develop a tradition of going outside at night to count shooting stars. When I was little it became a sort of game to see who could find the most shooting stars. A beloved pastime of my parents and one that I grew to love just as much. Whether in our backyard or sitting bog side with Dad, it was a tradition I cherished. And the game of counting shooting stars was just the catalyst to a bigger discussion about astronomy, for which Dad always had the answers to any number of questions I would throw at him. An encyclopedia of knowledge, he had solutions to any problems or questions I had. So on that night a few weeks ago when I grabbed my coat and ran outside in my pjs to count shooting stars, I was overcome with questions all about shooting stars and astronomy. Questions I had probably asked a number of times before, but this time, I didn’t have him there to provide any of the answers. By this time, my mind had already wandered to all the questions about how everything unfolded so terribly and so suddenly, and as I was feeling myself starting to unravel, I heard the door open. For a split second I imagined it was Dad coming outside to take to close up the barn, check the temperature or just get some fresh air. Of course I knew it could never be him, but I hoped it was and that I would wake up from all of this turning to John saying ” you will never believe what a terrible dream I had. It was awful and so very upsetting and I am so relieved it was only a dream.”
The door slammed shut.
I gazed again up at the night sky and tried to refocus my mind on shooting stars. Then cutting through the cold winter night, I heard the familiar voice of John searching for where I had set up camp . He found a spot next to me and we sat outside for what seemed like forever, counting stars, finding constellations and talking about astronomy. And this time when I asked questions, I had someone to guide me to an answer. It would never be just like Dad would respond but that was fine because it was different in just the right way. The night became the perfect medicine for my soul.