“If I cannot lie under the stars, I will watch them from my window” said a little girl to her parents one night. This was one of the difficult adjustments the girl had to make when her chronic illness first got a hold of her life.
One of the girl’s greatest pleasures in life was staring at the stars, and if now she had to do it from her window and not from her yard, that would have to suffice.
As she sat by her window, the girl soon realized that her part of town was just barely too polluted to see the stars at night. But she was not discouraged. “If I cannot watch the stars from my window,” said the girl, ”I will paint them on my walls.”
So the girl mapped out exactly how she would place the circles of light across her bedroom, which constellations she would illustrate. But when it came time to paint, her arms were so weak that she could hardly hold up a paintbrush. The girl was saddened by this, but she still would not give up.
“If I cannot paint the stars,” the girl began hopefully, but her mother stopped her.
“Dear, why don’t you pick something else to focus on, something that won’t be so difficult for you.”
“No, mom” the girl insisted. She reached out and grabbed her mother’s hand, comfortingly. “I will have the stars.”
So the girl fell asleep that night listening to her mother tell her about the night that she slept under the stars in the Rocky Mountains. She included every magical detail, hoping to transport her hurting daughter as close to her wish as she could.
The next several evenings, the girl asked her mom to tell her more about the stars. So she heard more stories, and then she heard the same ones over again. There were only so many stories the mom had to tell.
“I’m sorry, honey, I just can’t keep repeating the same stories over and over.”
“That’s okay, mom. Thank you for sharing those with me anyways.”
The little girl and her mom kissed goodnight.
Just as her mom was leaving and shutting the bedroom door, the girl whispered one last thing. “Mom, let’s make a deal. You go see the stars again and bring more stories to tell me. And I will make star stories of my own, to share with you.”
The mom was puzzled by this suggestion, but she was too tired to question her daughter.
When the girl made the same proposal in the morning, her mom agreed to go see the stars soon and come back with a story just for her.
It was not until later that the mom realized what a great gift she had been given. She had forgotten, until her daughter encouraged her to go out, how much she adored the stars and her evenings spent under them. She and her husband would go once a week to the part of town where the sky was clear enough that they could just barely see the bright stars. And every week, she would have another fond memory of her own as well as a lovely story to tell her daughter.
“So that is how your dad and I spent date night this past week. It was a bit chilly, but definitely worth it” the mom smiled, concluding her story one week.
“Alright, now you go,” said the mom who was expecting a story that her daughter made up. After all, what could the girl know of the stars, having spent so few nights under them?
But rather than be presented with an imaginative concoction about the galaxy, the mom was shocked at her daughter told her.
“Well this morning when I woke up, I saw a huge star outside my window. It is the only star I can see from here, and it is huge.” The girl stretched her arms wide in an attempt to show her star’s great size. “My star is the sun. Most people don’t think of it as a star, but it is the star that I see every day no matter what.”
“That is true,” her mom responded, unsure whether to be more happy or sad. “The sun is indeed a star, but I do wish you were able to see the stars at night, to trace the constellations.”
“I wish I could too, mom. Right now, though, I am content with my star, the sun, who gives me hope that a night when I can see the other stars will surely come.”
And so the girl continued on with her story until it was late and her mom left her with a kiss.
The sky did not offer the girl what she had hoped for, at least not yet, but she had come to take wonder in the beautiful gifts she had never before appreciated.
And, of course, when she would finally become well enough to travel and see the night stars from the top of a mountain, just like her mom, she would love the stars more than she ever imagined possible.
A short story by Tanya LaReveur