“Well now, that’s a big question,” the Grandpa answered slowly. “One of those questions that have more than one answer.”
The little girl’s brown knit into weaves and folds. She considered this as she studied her Grandfather’s serene profile.
“How could there be more than one answer? Isn’t there only one right answer?”
“There’s hardly ever just one right answer to any question in the world.”
“Then how can you know anything for sure, Grandpa?”
“Well, mi tesoro, you listen to all the answers and you either accept them, or you don’t. You have to decide what the right answer is for you.”
The little girl sighed and turned her eyes back to the sky.
“Okay, Grandpa, so what are stars?”
Grandpa thought for a moment.
“Some people say they’re other suns, from different solar systems, suns of galaxies so far away that we could never travel there.”
“If they’re so far away, how do we see them?”
“Some people say that the light takes thousands, maybe millions of years to get here. That means some of the suns that we’re looking at right now don’t even exist anymore. They’re gone, but their light won’t disappear for a thousand or even a million years.”
“That seems impossible.”
Grandpa nodded slowly, “It does, doesn’t it.”
“So, what do other people say?”
One corner of Grandpa’s mouth twitched.
“Well now, the Romans believed those lights in the sky were holes, holes in the very fabric of the universe. The light that we see, they believed it to be the fire of creation burning all around us, forever.”
“I like that,” the little girl breathed the words, then gasped. “Grandpa, what if it is Heaven and all the people who’ve left Earth are there and they can see through those holes. They can watch us.”
“Maybe if you look close enough, you can see them, too.”
The little girl squinted, concentrating.
“That one’s where my mom watches from,” she stated with confidence, pointing to a particularly bright star directly over her head. “And that one’s where my dad is.”
Grandpa nodded and lifted a finger to point to a star slightly to the left of the two his granddaughter had chosen.
“I’ve always thought that’s where your Grandma would be.”
They lay quietly for a while, listening to the crickets, staring at the night sky.
“I like that answer the best, Grandpa.”
“So do I, mi tesoro, so do I.”
For Simone and Gioia