A few weeks ago, during the Pleiades meteor shower, my family and I lay outside on a recliner staring into the sky.
Behind our house, with all the lights off, it is very dark, but the city lights blaring from the thirty miles of sprawling burbs in front of our house still drown out all but the biggest and brightest of stars.
Its a warm, silent and still night. My daughter lays on my wife's lap, my son on mine. Even though the night is a bit brisk, the children serve as space heaters warming us to our core as we stare up at the sky in the hopes that the children might see their first shooting star.
The sky is clear, the moon perhaps new or perhaps it hadn't risen yet and I lay noticing the glow of the city and think, "The only way we're going to see anything is if its large enough to threaten the planet." Of course I keep that to myself, no sense in worrying the family.
The family has gotten into the habit of saying prayers together. Its kinda corny (my thirteen year old mind says so) but at the same time, its sweet, sincere and brings us together. At the end of tonight's prayer Krista adds, "And we'd like to see a really big shooting star so Debi has a really great first shooting star experience!"
I think, "but not the end of life as we know it."
We lay in silence, for the most part. The presence of small children changes the definition of silence to something not actually silent, but near enough as to make an adult feel satisfied with the silence achieved.
Dave, the two year old seems baffled by the process of staring at the sky and often looks at us to see if he can suss what it is we're looking for. Debi knows what we're looking for: its a group of words: "Shooting star," "meteorite," "big line of light in the sky, kinda like a jet trail but faster and more thrilling." We have cleverly given her words to describe the experience, but we can't actually give her the experience.
So Dave just feels love from his family and Debi scans the skies for something she cannot possibly imagine.
Krista and I lay there with oh probably a billion billion thoughts. Everything from the first time we saw a shooting star, the first time we saw a shooting star together, the things we did that day, the things we have to do the next day, the things we have to buy, the things we have to avoid, the things we want to do, and finally the things we wish we'd done. That may not seem like a billion billion things, but remember my theme: words always fall short, so multiply this paragraph by a billion billion and you'll soon understand our moment.
Dave is less than two years old. His mind is nearly thoughtless. Debi is four and a half and has just a few thoughts, but the so called adults have a billion billion thoughts all vying for attention.
As Krista and I stare upward and Dave looks around, Debi becomes distracted and begins to ask us questions. We answer but remind her, "Keep looking at the sky, you don't want to miss your first shooting star!"
Its been roughly ten minutes and I'm already planning out how we'll break it to Debi that we have to go in without actually seeing a shooting star. I even have an answer to the question, "Why didn't we see a shooting star?" Its a horrible answer, but it works in a pinch and it usually stops the "why train."
All of the sudden, from directly in front of us a trail of light streaks straight overhead, right over the roof of the house.
For a moment, there are no thoughts. Its a very short moment that ends in a parental chorus, "Did you see that?"
Now Debi knows what a shooting star looks like. It has gone from a series of words to an actual experience, an experience that I hope she remembers for the rest of her life.
It was, in fact, so bright that I thought for a second it might be a planet killer, but thankfully not. No tremendous kaboom and no giant tsunami.
Debi started to talk about how bright it was, but we encouraged her to continue looking, with the completely false belief that if there's one, maybe there will be more: perhaps they travel in clusters.
However another five minutes go by and once again our minds are back to their old tricks.
Debi starts to talk and then zip zoom, but no bang, a light from our right zooms north toward the pole.
"Wow! Did you see it?"
Debi sighs, "No. I missed it," and begins to get upset.
We remind her how many times we reminded her, but that doesn't seem to help, in fact it seems to make things worse.
Internally I'm ecstatic that we got to see a little one. "It must have been magnesium for us to have seen it," I think to myself.
Krista says a few minutes later, "We need to go in, lets all pray for another bright one so Debi ends on a happy note."
So we pray.
A few minutes later we see another big one. Debi sees it too.
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.