i pulled a 5-year-old human outside into the dark onto the back porch. i had a feeling there would be stars, and there were.
he giggled for a minute as i dragged a deck chair from beneath a tree and swept the dead leaves from it.
“alright, let’s lay down and look at the stars.”
he’s still only a human of just 5 years, and hesistant:
“but i’m scared of the dark.” it was more of a question than a statement.
“it’s alright… i’ll hold you, angel.”
it was enough assurance for his little mind and he offered no resistance as i scooped him up and squeezed him snug beside me on the deck chair.
“can you see the stars, honey?” there’s a few trees spread out overhead, with stars tangled in their branches. this little human’s eyes still don’t work quite the way they should, even after surgery, and i’m never sure how much of the visible world they can see – although anyone who meets him knows how much of the world he sifts through his head. often when his brain is turning cogs one of his big blue irises wanders away to the side, giving him the most beautiful look of innocent contemplation.
“yeah.” he’ll never know the relief i felt then.
“look at that one there! the big yellow one. do you see it?” i ask; it hangs directly overhead, just above a dark line of trees.
he sees it, and i tell him that maybe it’s a planet, since it’s so big and bright. he seems enamoured with this. suddenly he exclaims,
“look, another planet! it’s huge and yellow too!”
he points upward and for a moment i search for some outstanding source of light until i realize what he is seeing.
“joe-joe, that’s a LEAF! you thought that yellow leaf was a PLANET!”
he is silent for a moment and then erupts into the most hilarious laugh. a real baby belly-laugh, absolutely uncontrollable and spilling out everywhere – onto the porch and into the previous silence. he can’t stop, and almost falls off the deck chair as i tickle his soft little stomach and squeeze him, repeating “it was a LEAF joe-joe! you’re so crazy!”
“it’s a – (quick inhale) – leaf” he gasps between his laughter, and i realize there’s really nothing in the world like being the lucky person who makes a 5-year absolutely comfortable – comfortable enough to cry laughing with in the pitch dark under a sky of stars. it’s a trust that few little humans are willing to give out, and it can’t be anything less than the most innocent exchange of love and comradery.
i then told him about the big dipper and the little dipper and how some stars are named after animals and how there’s a man in the moon if you really squint.
i didn’t tell him how the big blue orbs beneath his unfairly long lashes, wandering around to the pace of his thoughts, are far more beautiful than all of these.