The last couple weeks River has developed a nighttime routine where he pulls me out into the backyard and we sit together in a lawn chair and point at stars, or the moon, or an airplane, and just talk about it in our respective languages, mine being English and his being “River”. He throws a few English words in there at times.

All day I look forward to sitting out there while his 18 month old observation and communication skills develop right in my lap. The nights are still cool for us, so we have cold damp grass under our feet as we walk hand in hand out to the chair. He sits in my lap, his blond little hairs lift easily in the breeze to tickle my chin. The smell of his shampoo is sweet. His legs bend comfortably as his feet land in my hands. He exercises his right to squirm and point and chatter.

Occasionally, he’ll decide to go exploring in the dark only to come squealing back into my arms and find his sitting position so quickly it makes me think the only reason he left was so that he could come back.
I show him the two or three constellations that I know, and promise him that one day we’ll learn a whole bunch of them together. He listens kindly and leans back on my chest. It is the strongest, most life-changing message he sends to me. His trust.

That kind of trust changes you. It builds you up and also haunts you. It’s humbling…like stargazing, but it’s ok, I can handle it. Because in that moment it’s just me and River, two little guys looking up into a big sky.