How do you say goodbye to a star?
Science says that many of these celestial bodies of gas and fire have since burned out in the night sky, yet their light remains radiant amidst the black. Their glimmering rays have not ceased to shine, for time is a strange idealism in the universe. What has passed and no longer thrives in one system, somehow radiates in another.
The cold air flows from the vent, sweeping tresses of my hair back to my shoulders or along the soft skin of my cheeks. I rake my fingers through the locks and lay my chin against my palm. A group of us sat quietly in the car. Some were asleep, one drove with a pondering expression, and the rest stared out into the darkened sky, ignoring the headlights that cast shadows to the sides. The stretch of road that lay ahead held only us and the natural world. But what I yearned to spectate was nothing I could reach.
No one asked why I was fidgeting in the passenger’s seat, moving from left to right, then eventually bobbing my head closer to the windshield. My wriggling came to a halt when I withheld the night sky just beyond my window.
Stars. There were stars everywhere. They glimmered like diamonds strewn across black velvet. They intermingled effortlessly, but didn’t appear unorganized in their arrangement.
I sighed, almost content.
Have you ever seen a star twinkle? You have to stare at one long enough to realize that it is a life; it flickers against the dark but never disappears.
I glanced back at my friend, who’s thoughts were too consuming. My friend, who’s journey is soon to be taken on a different path. A road many endure just like this— on a stretch of earth that should be familiar, but when consumed by that which you do not know, it turns into a foreign land. This passage is paved by hand, and knows much of sacrifice. What matters? They leave to become something great for themselves and others. What hurts? Well, they leave.
I sighed again, turning my pupils back to the sky.
Where were they?
I huffed and pressed against my seat, a bit defeated. My chocolate irises rose just above the dashboard only to realize they had found me. A wide grin stretched across my face. I laughed on the inside, realizing just how much finding the handle of the Big Dipper meant to me.
When I was little, and looked to the sky for a word of advice, I always found these three stars, distinguished amongst the array of lights. It took me years to realize they were but the handle of the pan, but after so long, they became so much more.
I still can’t identify why I search the vastness of our world for them. But I also can’t say how I find them every time.
How do you say goodbye to a star?
The thought itself brought tears to my eyes, for I couldn’t process how to accept the darkness. How do you say goodbye to something so precious? How do you say goodbye to someone who impacted your life in such a positive way? How do you say goodbye to the last remnant of your old spirit?
But when a star leaves, it isn’t gone. Its light diminishes, yet we still see it burn. Time allows us to hold onto it every night. And dawn is a reminder that what we can’t see is still there. Morning comes to ensure that even though light greets us as our lashes flutter open, it is the light within ourselves that we must eagerly bid our welcomes.
If we can hold onto that light, the one within ourselves, then it’s possible that even if we leave our home, our country, our world— it will never vanish as our bodies might. How? Well, the light of one life touched me with a vitality and glow I was sure I’d lost. I can only hope that even after I’m gone, mine too, will live unforgotten.
Evening comes. The sun sets. And the stars come out to play. They form, and they sparkle. They exist. And even when they don’t, they do.
So, how do you say goodbye to a star?
You say, “See you later.” Because when night comes, you do.
-Kiran Bains Sahota