He lay back in the long dark grass and closed his eyes. It was getting colder. Winter is coming, the breeze around him seemed to whisper.

He was still and silent, thinking about things, mostly worrying. Footfalls on the soft green carpet. He sensed someone near. His eyes remained closed. He didn't need to look. He knew who it was. The presence spoke.

Darling...the voice trembled. From the cold, or distress? Probably both. What are you doing?

Breathing deeply, in and out. Counting the stars he still saw with closed eyes.

Darling? Inquisitive. Perhaps pleading? Yes, he recognized the tone. The presence crouched nearer. Are you ok? These things that I am fighting, that I am worrying over...in the grand scheme...they are nothing. Don't fret about it. Okay? Please.

Soft sigh. He willed his patience to stick around a little longer. Eyes opened and stared into the night sky. Stars were falling. He was falling. Into what? He didn't know. Change of focus. There she was, to the right of him. He stared back up into the sky. The occasional star was still falling.

She looked up as well, and spoke again. You see the stars? The universe out there is so very vast. Our troubles are minute. We are but specks of sand.

He paused. Not so. Not so at all. They are just...different. To something yet bigger, the stars themselves are specks.

Her turn to sigh. She lay down too, not touching him, just near. The two stared up into the dark blue forever, stars punching holes into the sky, letting in light. Sparkling. Some still falling, going out. Winking at them. A few minutes of silence, and then...

You see them falling? From his peripheral vision he noted her nodding, yes. If I am right, if those stars are specks to something greater...if even those amazing stars can burn out...

She held her breath and waited. He slowly sat up, still looking at the sky. He cleared his throat. We are all shining and important to someone. We are not so insignificant as you say. We matter. We all shine in different ways. And some of us...tire of that shining. We burn out. We fall.

She too sat up now, concerned. Darling, I --

He held up his hand, motioning for her to be silent. We count. Even if only to the specks of dust that see us as the vast universe. We are significant. He stood up. He paused, ran a hand through his hair. He looked up again, gesturing at the sky. These stars...they have a universe of darkness to fight against. Yet they still shine on. Even as they fall, they burn bright to the very last. We should do well to take our lesson from the stars.

He turned to her. She was staring at nothing, listening intently. His voice softened a little. These worries of yours, these trials you must overcome - they are significant. They matter. They are like the darkness we each fight against, every day. We shine on, regardless. It is just a matter of choosing how long we wish to give out light. He focused on her. She was looking up at him, overwhelmed. His voice lowered to almost a whisper.

If even things as amazing as stars burn out sometimes, is it any surprise that we can, too? And you wonder why I worry about you. You are no less important than the stars. You dazzle so many people, and yet you shine on, oblivious. Just like a star. So if you were to burn out...it would matter. You are important. You are so much more important than you realize. We all are.

She stared at him in quiet awe. He was right. And then, she smiled, and bravely chose to shine on.

This story is fiction. This story is also true. No matter how insignificant we may feel, we affect a multitude of things and people in so many ways. Nothing is trivial. We are important. We are loved.

We matter.