In the summer, nearing the end of twilight exists that time of the day when fireflies emerge and flash their bottom. They flutter with their long slender black wings, and light from their glowing ends glimmer among the thick grass, holly berry bushes, and maple trees. While in flight, their bright tails are too finicky to capture with a camera. They dart around, quietly and quickly puncturing the evening sky with their light, as though they are purposely escaping our eyes.
Our son Kiri is this light. The pregnancy with him last summer was difficult for a few reasons — it was following the loss of his sister, and it was with some physical complications — so we hid news of him to most of the outside world. Our love for him was no less than that for his sister — it was just quieter among friends and family. Danith followed a pregnancy website that provided weekly details of Kiri’s growth, including the fruit to which his size was comparable for the week. He grew from a blueberry to a kiwi to a mango. Danith told me about when our son’s hair would sprout and when he would take his first gulp of amniotic fluid. I learned, too, about when he would start to suck his thumb. Each week, our son met milestones, but I was still nervous and was not confident enough to share him. Amidst my constant worry, though, bursts of light flickered. Our son was growing within my body, and his father and I quietly dreamed about our lives with him.
At about this time last year, when I was around 15 weeks pregnant, I shared with a friend that Kiri was my firefly, and she immediately understood. We talked about sitting on our decks in the silver of the evening, when the day was ending, when the cars were home and parked in the garages, when the neighborhood’s dogs barked less. We mused on the stillness of that time, when night was fast approaching. It is gray, it is hazy, it is slow, and it rests a bit heavily on the chest. And we mused on the fireflies surfacing then and marking their presence with only specks of light. Without a sound or any fanfare, they illuminate the space around us, bringing clarity and gratitude to that time of day.
This past Fourth of July weekend, Danith and I sat in our backyard to be with the fireflies. It wasn’t that I needed them to remind me of Kiri or to feel closer to him. It was that I wanted to be in my son’s presence. His tiny physical being continues to puncture the grayness around me with light.