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by John Carter

Tonight, with everyone asleep, I’ve made my familiar rounds, going to each of my children and whispering:

“I love you, Evan.”
“I love you, Matthew.”
“I love you, Lauren.”
“I love you, Dylan.”

These are the quiet moments. The whole house is asleep, and the world seems still. I am filled with the strength of the words I’m saying, combined with a familiar frustration at my inability to show them how much I love them.

Part of me wishes that these small souls, who I love so fiercely, were standing beside me in this darkness. That their adult selves could run through these hectic days, to be my age, to know me now and relate to all I’m feeling. Another, smaller part of me, lies sleeping, curled up beside those sweet, innocent faces, pajamas rumpled, arms akimbo.

The reason I do this is – for me – uncharacteristically superstitious. I hope and pray that somehow these night messages are subliminally stored in a special part of their brains. And that at the end of this life, no matter how close or far apart we’ve grown, or how things turn out, they will remember these whispers and their father’s voice, their father’s love.

I look out the window at a brilliant, clear night sky, and I recall what I’ve read about those stars. Some are long dead, but their light is just arriving here, to fill me with warmth and wonder in this moment. When I am long gone and they need it most, I hope these sweet children can still find strength in my abiding love.

Physicists say that our bodies are made of atoms that were once part of the stars. At this moment, I know it’s true. I can feel it when I look at my sleeping children. When all the noise is gone and everything is as simple as the ray of pure love pouring out of me and into them.

My little stars. Myself, but not me.