I told you my favorite constellation once.
It was when we first met, and you were telling me about the place you lived and how the skies got so dark over there, that you could see more stars than you had ever seen before in your life.
I remember asking you if you could see Cassiopeia, a constellation of five stars that formed the outline of a queen who was trapped on her throne. I remember telling you that I always found myself looking for her in the skies.
I’m not sure what it was about that specific arrangement of stars that always spoke to me, but I guess there was something about the image of someone being helplessly spun around as the world turned beneath her that seemed, in a way, relatable.
The world always appeared to me as it must have to Cassiopeia: swirling and unstable with no fixed horizon in sight. I guess I saw myself in her…a constellation that could only be made sense of from light years away, here on Earth.
I imagine that the five stars that make her up have no idea that they are a part of a larger story which can only be seen with the perspective of someone far away and far removed from them. I doubt the stars understand that each of them play a role in giving the other four stars meaning and purpose. I doubt they know they are a crucial part of a cosmic pattern that appears random when up close, but from a distance, makes more sense than it has any reason to.
I imagine each star in Cassiopeia thinks itself to be alone and purposeless with no idea that there are other stars, just like them, depending on their light and existence to make sense of their own.
And that’s when I think of you, and I wonder if that’s what it was like for you when you died. I wonder if you were able to see the light and sense you brought to the world and the people who knew you.
I imagine you, like the stars within a constellation, could not begin to comprehend how many people depended on your life and the light it brought to make sense of their own lives. How could someone possibly see or perceive the vital role they play in the configuration of other people’s lives while they are living their own?
I can’t speak for others, but I know for me, when you died, it was as if someone extinguished one of the five stars in Cassiopeia.
What was once a recognizable and stable pattern was now randomness and chaos. With you gone, I could no longer make out the form of my own life. There was no girl. There was no throne. And there was no longer an Earth spinning beneath her.
I can only imagine how many people felt the same way; people who hadn’t spoken to you in years, who had lives that had expanded far beyond the stretch of sky they met you in, were left broken and grasping to reclaim a sense of self that was inexplicably shaken by your death.
We can’t see it from here. Our importance. Our role. I don’t think you could see it when you were alive.
But I have hope that you can see it now.
I hope that is a part of the joys of Heaven, or wherever you may be: that you can see what we don’t have the perspective or distance to see until we’re gone. I hope you can see the lights of the people who loved you being moved into new constellations, new patterns, and new creations that had no reason to exist when you were still here with us.
I don’t know where you live now, but I hope that if it has dark skies, you will be able to see what none of us down here can. I don’t know what the skies of Heaven look like, but I hope we are the stars you see.
And I hope that you can make me out from where you are and that you can see that I’m transfigured into a new constellation; one that you are still a part of somehow. I hope you can see that I’ve found solid ground to stand on and a fixed horizon to gaze at.
And I hope you can feel it in your soul, like I can feel it in mine, that you were the falling star that led me straight to it.