Looking up into the Past

Jessica - Morris, Illinois
Entered on February 23, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by the stars. I knew they were there for a reason other than beauty, but I could never put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out what it was. As I grew older, it became more apparent that star gazing actually meant looking into the past.

Until recently, I only viewed this fact as a scientific matter. The reason the stars tell a story about the past is because it takes so long for light to travel from each star to Earth. So when you look at the flickering of stars, what you are actually seeing is a flicker that happened hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Now I believe they can tell a story about the past, and make uncertain aspects of life more clear.

I was driving to school by myself. It was going to be my first semester as a college student at a university I had applied to not once, but three times. Each time I had applied, I had received a letter of acceptance, but for one reason or another, I had never attended. So, along the way, I caught myself glancing at the sea of stars that acted as a trail to college. With each passing mile, I realized that I was paying more attention to the sky than to the road. Not because it was so clear out, but because looking at the stars took me back a year and a half.

The last time I traveled that road was with my mother. All she could say the whole sixteen hour trip was how proud I had made her, all I could do was stare out the window at the twinkling specks of gas and revel in how clear the sky was. We were on our way to the freshman orientation. She smoked one Virginia Slim after another in anticipation because her “baby girl” was going to be the first and only member of our family to attend college. She used to say, “Don’t end up like me. Get a good job so you don’t have to depend on anyone to take care of you”. When she would tell me this I would understand there was nothing she wanted more for me than to continue my education. I could only fathom how heartbroken and disappointed she was in me when I told her I had decided not to attend college. Let’s just say, during the trip home, no words were exchanged.

After her death this past March, I realized I had to do everything in my power to make her proud of me again.

My mother must have wished so hard on those stars because her dream for me is now a reality. I guess now I am seeing a glimpse of the past in the stars by finally realizing what her wish had been.

From now on, every time I gaze into the night sky and become engrossed by the mass of stars, my thoughts will always turn to my mother, her dreams for my future, and our past together.