Eighth grade, staring at the heavenly bodies in the space above. It was the first time I ever spent the night with my best friend at the time and also the experience that pretty much solidified our friendship. The particular star that caught our notice was one that alternated between snow white, icy blue, and fiery red all in a quick succession. Why did it blink the way it did? Was it a star that, millions of light years away, was being consumed in a fiery abyss? We discussed a revelation that was first presented to us in science class: that a star can die and it would take millions of years for the news to reach earth; for the pinpoint of light to disappear from the night sky. Were we watching the eons old death of a ball of gas? The thought stumped us both as we continued to watch it.
That’s how I felt on the day I found out about Caleb’s accident. And then again when I finally felt the full impact.
I imagine Caleb laying in his car for hours before he is found and it is light years to me. I think about how it was at least six hours until I found out and I feel the distance. The catastrophe happened and it took millions of years for it to reach me. I was the earth and Caleb was my star and his destruction was not made known to me for eons.
For months after the accident it was momentum, momentum, momentum. Inertia, forward motion. Conquer the next obstacle. Until, it wasn’t. Little did I know that the accident was like the star being consumed in chaos and the full effects would not reach me until much later. There wasn’t anything left to do and life started to resemble a new “normal” and that’s when it really hit me. I finally had time to slow down and feel the tailspin that I was in. The hits that kept coming from all sides. The lack of control.
Control is a thing I struggle with now. The accident and all the things that came after made me feel as if all semblance of control was wrested from my hands. I felt like a planet knocked out of orbit. As a result, I exert control in other areas of my life. I’ve been defiant against anything I don’t want to do. I may not text or call back. Not for any reason but simply because it is something I have a say in. I want to feel like I have a say in my own life again. I want to be the pilot.
At times I look up and I see that same star, still blinking, still exploding, still dying. It reminds me of simpler times when there were relatively no worries. I wish I could go back to pizza rolls and Teen Titans Go, sitting on the edge of the bed with Caleb on my lunch break. I want to go back to running in Lucy Park and mini-golfing and walking side by side.
The thing is that Caleb is my stars and my planets and my entire night sky. As long as the two of us find ways to enjoy life together I know my night sky will still be complete. Our former life may have blinked out, but new stars form every day.