~Originally published in Birch Bark Editing~

My son is still with me. We are sitting in the grass on a warm summer evening, looking up, when the star-burdened sky unzips itself. A seam of light bursts to life straight above us, flashes over the western hills, and disappears. The night deepens around us, briefly darkened by the dazzle of its passing.

My boy, six years old and eager to build a fortress of facts around himself—as though information might protect him from the condition laying siege to his body—grabs my arm and gasps, “What was that?”

And I, hoping there is time yet for truth and room still for wonder, say, “That’s a soul moving on.”

Damn it. Distracted by my worries, I have stupidly opened the door to the conversation about Death. Why didn’t I just say shooting star and encourage him to make a wish? For a bicycle, maybe. Or a cure.

He will know the rest soon enough, all those facts for which he is so hungry, the knowledge that will break his heart. That has already broken mine. The emptiness of space, the black-hole gravity of time, the loss and leaving that none of us cares to face.

It can wait.

Let it wait.

Right now, let there be distant stars and warm nights. Let him hold my hand and smile back at the shimmering dark. Let us rest together in this moment. Before my son blazes across the sky and is gone.