I have a skylight above my bed. It’s my own rectangular slice of of sky. I usually wake up many times during the night, and each time I see a slightly different configuration of stars winking at me, keeping me company as I lay awake in the dark, quiet night. Sometimes I fall back asleep right away, and other times I lay there watching as the sky slowly shifts with the earth’s rotation.
Today, I went for a hike with a friend, and I found myself talking about people who have touched my life in some way. I am talking specifically about people who are, for all intents and purposes, no longer in my day to day life. Some of them are old friends, and some are people who may have just passed through my life for a day, an hour, or just a moment. Some of them I am friends with on Facebook, and some have vanished from my life for ever. But I am grateful for all of them.
It’s funny how just even a small interaction can impact a life. I have thought many, many times about a man who was standing in line in front of me when my mom took me to get an ice cream cone when I was five. I think I was telling my mom what flavor I wanted, when suddenly the man turned around and exclaimed jubilantly, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” I was a very timid child, and I’m sure I must’ve appeared very shy and nervous, but for some reason, that gleeful gesture touched me in an inexplicable way, and made me feel a little better about the world, even at the tender age of five.
In some way, it pains me that these people are no longer a part of my life. But they ARE still a part of my life, and their very presence in my life, at whatever point, is something that still fills me with gratitude. They are still giving to me, even though they, themselves are gone. As I said to my friend, these people are like stars. Even though their presence in my life may have burned out, their light continues to shine on.
Insomnia can be a troubling thing. It can very easily snowball into anxiety and panic, (“How am I going to function tomorrow if I can’t sleep?!”) I try as best as I can to stay calm in these moments. But now, as I lay awake watching the stars through my skylight, I will think happily of them as all the people who have blessed my life with their presence. And as I count each winking star, I will count my blessings.