I held my two year-old son close. Wrapped up in a furry, orange, wool blanket, he and I looked up into the night sky. I could smell his hair and traces of blueberry juice that persisted on his tiny pink lips. I held him so close that I could hear both of our heartbeats, each in it’s own rhythm…one heart so young and yet to fall from grace, and another, older, that had stumbled and fallen and gotten back up again.
This young little falcon boy followed my hand as I gestured up into the vast sky. He looked skyward, waiting for me to tell him something. Waiting for my Poppa words to help him understand everything above us. I paused. I looked up into the inky blackness, freckled with tiny white points of brilliance. And for a brief moment of paternal indecision, I had nothing to say that would adequately describe what he needed to know about stars, and planets, the sun, black holes, comets, and the speed of light. I almost told him about the Greek constellations. I almost told him a Native American legend of the heavens. But, I did not tell him these things. Instead, with his soft cheek against mine and his warm exhalations on my stubbled chin…
I told him that, “Each star has a fairy that takes care of it. Each fairy gets to pick which star it will take care of.” I told him that, “The fairies help to keep the stars white and bright. They clean them up when a star gets dirty. And if a star gets sad, a fairy holds it close and tells it that everything will be all right by singing it a song that the fairy writes for it’s special star.”
And then, I told my little falcon boy that the stars were really high, but that he and I could reach up and we could at least try to touch one. He looked at me and then he stood up in my arms and reached his cherub arms towards the heavens. “I wants to touch one”, he said. “Me too”, I replied. We reached and we re-reached. We held our breath and exhaled at the end of each arm extension. “No touch”, he told me, frustrated by our exertions. “No touch”, I echoed.
And then, it was time for him to go to sleep. We said goodbye to the stars, and to the fairies who take care of them. And for a brief moment in time, for he and I, everything was right with the world. We went back inside, and left it up to the fairies to take care of their special stars.
Jeffrey Post-Holmberg is a contributing writer for River Notes Blog. When he is not reaching for stars, he spends time with his wife, making sure that there is magic and joy in a world that the little falcon will find out soon enough, can be a a challenging place to live.