Record of Light
This is a piece that came out of the play-writing workshop. I am sharing it while thinking of Eva and her mom. Some of you know how we became friends, but that is a story for another day. (If you are curious, you’ll just have to come to the play because the story of our friendship is in there!) Just know that Eva was Lydia’s first friend and that I was so proud of her.
Record of Light
Okay this is kind of a ‘deep thoughts’ moment, but ever since my daughter was born with such overwhelming challenges, I find myself wondering about the larger meaning of it all. I wonder about all our kids. What significance do their lives have? Or do any of our lives have for that matter?
Well. . . Sometimes I like to think about nature. Nature is at its healthiest and most stunning when saturated with variety. Our unique kids are the expression of the farthest ranges of human beauty. They are the outliers on the S curve.
But what about, I don’t know, beyond that? Like, what does it all mean in the farthest reaches of time and space?
Well, so I was thinking about this right? So I looked it up on the Internet and well, one of the farthest objects in the sky that we can see is a giant supernova. There are other, further, objects but there is this one particular supernova that I can’t stop thinking about, one that is my favorite.
Well, yes, okay, I am a bit of a nerd. But it’s really interesting. It is called Supernova Mingus and it is one of the farthest supernovas from our planet. Scientists found it while trying to answer big questions about cosmic history. It’s like our special kids, an expression of the farthest ranges of the galaxy’s beauty.
Imagine an average star at the end of its life, as Supernova Mingus once was. Suspended in the immense darkness of space among other distant stars, it nears the end of its fiery life. Its core slowly succumbing to gravity, the heat of its body dispersing and cooling into space. It is about to collapse, and when it does its radiation will outshine that of its host galaxy before fading away. . . Now imagine that this star is conscious of itself, aware of its own existence. In this moment, it wonders, “what was the meaning of all that? Why did I churn all those gases, why did I emit so much energy? Was there any point?”
And then for a long while the universe gets on with the business of expanding and changing. It moves on after the death of the star, even starts to forget about it. Galaxies form, new stars are born, things are happening!
A long, long time later, ten billion years later, one small curiosity of life happens – a hiccup of consciousness on a random planet.
This is us. Strange little creatures that we are, the star never could have imagined! It had never seen anything like us while it was around.
During our very short time we wondered about our place in the universe. About the meaning of it all, and we scoured the record of starlight with giant telescopes hoping to answer our own questions of why and what. We searched hard and found a light just skirting the edge of invisibility.
It would have seemed incredulous to that star, who was one among millions and who was dying alone in space, that billions of years later – billions! – small beings could, for a breath of a moment, look back on the life and death of that star and find meaning in its existence . . .
Your light is still reaching us, star!
This is my letter to that star.
Dear dying star,
You may not understand it now, but somewhere in the expanse of time, even if for only a moment, you bring awe and amazement to a whole planet . . .
I want you to know that, to me, you matter. You have changed how I look at everything. How I understand the entire universe. You gave me hope that death isn’t an end – that our reach is not limited by the frailty of our bodies; and our lives can have significance far beyond what we ever imagined – through time, through space. You taught me that amazing things are possible!
In every way our worlds are different, in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend. But somehow I know you. You fill my heart with joy. I love you so much I don’t even know how to say it. Because my love is bigger than the words that come out. My love goes farther than the distance of the galaxies between us. It lasts longer than the many billions of years it has taken for me to meet you. I see your light and I carry it in my heart every minute of every day.
What I am trying to say is that, although this has been a difficult journey, one I could never have imagined, maybe it wasn’t what you or I expected, there is not a moment I’d give up being with you. You’ve made everything more precious, more beautiful with your light. And your light will outlive us. Outlive our entire planet.
I hope I may also live my life as a record of light as you have done. Maybe someone will replay it in a few billion years, who knows?
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, star.
I love you, I love you, I love you,