Shooting Star

It is early morning. The sun has not yet risen.The dog and I walk past slumbering houses along empty streets. The only sounds are my footsteps on pavement and the panting of the dog as she trots ahead of me.

This is our time. Setting out before the world awakens is deliberate. It is the hour when the wonders and mysteries of a darkened universe reveal themselves before they are eclipsed by the brilliance of the sun.

We don’t have long to wait. A pair of coyotes emerges from a back lane just metres from us. The dog tenses. I murmur to her. There is no danger. They are eager to get to the safety of their den before the world goes bright.

How can it be so dark right before the dawn? But I am comfortable wrapped in this black cloak. Because that same darkness lives within me. I am forever free-falling into the infinite black hole of my son’s death.

We turn into the park. The grass is soft under foot, the diamond sky sparkles.

When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night.

Juliet’s words for Romeo.

We make our way to the top of a hill that overlooks the sports field. I sit down, arms wrapped around bent knees. My gaze moves upwards once more. I sit like this on the hill often, sometimes for long enough to get a crick in my neck. I am waiting, hoping, and this morning I am not disappointed. A shooting star arcs across the sky, its glitter made more precious by the brevity of its appearance.

“There you are,” I say aloud.

David is my shooting star. He streaked through life, glowing bright and hot, burning out too soon, too soon. Leaving only a vapor trail in his wake.

My son was 27 when he died. He was killed on a sunny, bright January day, hit by a driver in a crosswalk.

“How can he be dead?” I said to the police at the door.

I sit on the grass and run my fingers through the dog’s fur.

I think back to when my belly was heavy with the weight of my unborn son. He was my little spaceman, floating in an amniotic sea, tethered to the mother ship by an umbilical cord. I knew him before he was born. I rocked him to sleep with the beating of my heart.

And he is with me still. A line of light glows white among the stars, one end attached to David, the other to me. But, who knows? Maybe it’s only Orion’s Belt blurred by tears.

How do you accept the death of your child? All I know is that love never dies. And grief is the price you pay for love.

I hear, rather than see, dawn breaking behind me. The songbirds mumble sleepy twitters. The ravens croak to each other in their raspy voices. The world emerges from the dark, going from rosy pink to buttercup yellow.

It’s time to head home. Words from The Prophet float in my head.

And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.