06/05/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reaching for the Stars

When I extend my index finger and wiggle it in anticipation of tickling his neck, or just before I leave the house when he purses his slobbery lips and kisses me, his eyes change color and depth. They are no longer blue; they are overtaken by light. I always think of stars--bodies light years away, created by mass collapsing in a mysterious explosion--miraculously transplanted into my five-year-old son's head.

I know where he got it from, at least biologically; I've seen that same slight upward glance in a picture of my wife when she was five. She's hiding behind a tree trunk, an impish smile on her face; her eyes betray the same brilliance. From the nose up, my wife and son are the same children, separated only by time. That's why I married her--the reassuring heat in her body and soul. I could only glimpse it when she didn't know I was watching, the incandescence in a certain elusive look in her eyes. It had nothing to do with what she said; it was the gravitational pull of moon to planet.

As my son is light, I am dark. My mood is most often brooding. I strive toward a goal that, when met, proves insufficient and another takes its place. I look at my son and wife with wonder. They are a different race. Years of struggle have served to confirm for me that there is no primary cause of my being, my personality, my proclivity for caves. It simply is. It is me.

When I look into my son's eyes, what do I see? Do I see my wife? Do I see myself? Do I see God? I see the universe as it was intended. I see my imperfections and love even those faults unconditionally.

But those eyes. In moments of self-imposed hatred, I see my son's baby blues. Nothing else matters. All concern drops. Where does that light come from? Why can't I drink it in, make it a part of me like an arm or a leg? I don't so much see this light as feel it in the pit of my stomach. But as hard as I try to swallow his innocence, I cannot. The stars in my boy's eyes are transient, temporary, of my flesh and bones but not of me.