Winter Sky

For a while now, I’ve been missing the Big Dipper.  It’s not like it’s not there, it’s just that I can’t see it most nights.  Fog, clouds, rain – all part of the winter sky, and all part of why I’ve not been able to see it – the Big Dipper.  For most of my life, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal.  But, since Owen died, this is a very big deal.  A friend of his from Boulevard Cinemas (Claire)  made this clear, and I wrote about it last year, and I posted something about it way back then – 4th Star.

Nat, Michael, and I spent our evening together sorting through old family photos.  I won’t say it was easy, but it was comforting.  I looked up a few times to see tears running down Michael’s face, and it was okay.  We all cry with certain memories.  I cry several times a day remembering our lives together and apart, remembering Owen’s smile, his laugh, his disappointment at the things life left unanswered.  And, always, I cry for the mystery of how he left us.  

When we lived in Petaluma, in those many months (almost a year) after Owen died, I could look up and see the whole constellation of the Big Dipper – the fourth star, his star, the one that connects the ladle to the handle – and I felt like the universe was whole.  Now, let me make it perfectly clear.  The universe is whole.  I could be committed to an asylum for thinking otherwise (oh, except that it’s harder to be committed nowadays, than it is to get health insurance without a job that has a group health plan – and that’s something that could become a thing of the past – no, really, companies are cutting their health plans every day – are you reading the newspapers, the business journals?).  My orientation to the Big Dipper was from that particular geography, and therefore, one that can’t be recreated from anywhere else on the planet.  So, when we moved a few miles away, I spent my nights searching the night sky for the same configuration, and found myself wanting, even in the summer and autumn.  Not wanting because it wasn’t there, but wanting, because I don’t know astronomy, and have a hard time with spatial relations and the orientation of the sky/earth confluence.  

Tonight, after an especially challenging, and blessedly rewarding day, I went to the backyard to look for the Big Dipper.  I found it.  But, it took me a few seconds to recognize it.  The winter sky had changed the Big Dipper to the Big-Sideways-Dipper-in-a-Different-Part-of-the-Sky constellation.  I kept walking backwards (in the middle of the night), and wondered if I might fall into the pool while searching for the 4th star.  The 4th star is still the most dim of the 7 (not likely to change in the next millennia), but I found it and said out loud, “Hey, Beautiful”.  And, though I knew Owen’s star would make me work to see its beauty, it took my tired eyes a few minutes to adjust to the dark sky and the few brilliant stars scattered throughout the dome.  Once I could focus and send out my thanksgiving, I realized how close I was to the edge of the pool, and quickly made my way toward the back door of the house, sad that I thought I needed to be careful, given my sleepless state and my desire to look up without regard for my footing on the patio.  

When I regained my awareness of where I was, I was glad I was wearing a down jacket.  The night was cold, and the hour late.  I came into the house and found my laptop where I’d left it, at the side of my bed on the floor.  Here I am writing in the middle of the night again.  Why these hours work for me, I can’t know.  I just know that there are things I have to do when I can, when my thoughts are somewhat coherent, and when the stars are visible from the pool’s edge.

I’ve missed seeing Owen’s star during these last few months.  I miss Owen.  I miss who we all were back then.  But, I am so very grateful that the heavens don’t change much – well, in my lifetime, anyway.  I’m grateful I can see the stars (with my glasses on, mind you), and that no matter the season, the stars are still there, waiting for me to find them.

Song for the night:  Starry Starry Night, Don McLean (I may have posted this song in the past, but it can’t be said enough:  “…this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you…”)


~ by Linda on January 3, 2009.

3 Responses to “Winter Sky”

  1. linda, isnt it sad , amazing unrealistic how our hearts & soul can miss our childen so desreratly . I feel the need to be commited daily also. I just lost a brother 55 YRS OLD, never sick a day, big screw up when scoped . Thank -You so much for all your inspirational post, & helping me thru thesr worst 19 months of my life.Remember you are never alone ! HUGS SANDY SHANES MOM , OWEN OWEN OWEN

  2. It takes 88 days for Mercury to circle the “Son”. Even with glasses on.
    The night sky is such a vast harbor, isn’t it?
    And 88 days can last a lifetime.

  3. Starry starry night
    Paint your palette blue and grey…

    We’ve had great winter skies here, too — with Jupiter visible alongside the moon last week just before a frosty sundown.

    Vincent, from American Pie — the first album I ever bought. Great song to pick along to as well, so thanks for reminding me.

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