Last night, I was drawn outside by a red light shining on the backyard fence.

I should check to see that it was nothing to be concerned about, although I suspected it was due to the outdoor Christmas lights. It was, and my concern was alleviated.

I was dressed only in my pajamas and slippers (sounds like the beginning of a Christmas story, doesn’t it!), intending to be outside for a moment and then retreat into the warmth of my home. After all, it was only 21 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the crisp air didn’t bother me at all, and as I wondered about how easily I acclimated to the temperature, I gazed up at the stars twinkling in the clear, dark sky. “Light needs darkness to shine,” a double entendre (more thoughts about that later).

I thought about my parents looking down on me from above, probably wondering what I was thinking, going outside in the wintry cold without a hat and coat. I could hear my mother admonishing me, “You’ll catch a death of a cold.” You know what I’m talking about. Our mother’s voice of wisdom stays in our heads long after our mothers have passed!

I thought about my favorite aunt as an angel, rocking babies and children who left Earth and now reside in the Heavens. And then I wondered why I was wondering about all of these things. What was nudging me to linger in the crisp air?

This morning, while inside sipping my coffee, I continued thinking about stars and the infiniteness of the universe. I began to realize why I had lingered outside the night before. Outside with the spirits of the night as glittery stars above my head. I was remembering. Not only those I directly knew who had passed but also those who had passed whom I didn’t know and are also still always near us, nudging us not to forget.

Not to forget. What was I being nudged to remember particularly?

And then there it was. A memory floated into my head as I remembered Pearl Harbor Day was coming up on December 7th.

When I was a child, December 7th was a significant day to remember those who lost their lives in the bombing and those who would continue to fight. It still should be — not to honor war but for the opportunity to hear and tell stories about how wars affect our daily lives and that a moment in time such as this is not only about bombs, death, and heroes but also about those who lived.

During World War II, in sync with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my father, who was in military intelligence, wrote two thoughts to his girlfriend, my future mother. They have lived in my heart since I read them.

The first was written the day before the Pearl Harbor bombing. “Everything is quiet here. I’ve heard rumors, and I sense something is about to happen. Top officials are here.” The day Pearl Harbor was bombed was the first day my father hadn’t written to my mother since the war began. As I read the letter, I held my breath, as I imagined my mother must have held hers as she and her parents sat by the radio listening to President Roosevelt’s address to the United States. Her cousin was one of 1,177 who died on the USS Arizona.

A couple of days later, she would receive a letter of “wondering.” Dad wrote, “Why do men fight? Why do we do these things?”  I could feel the heaviness of his thoughts as I read the words decades later.

Like each of those stars twinkling above me the night before, the memory of those who existed before us twinkle and light our path.