On your very next birthday, I’ll give you the moon
On the end of a string, like a golden balloon . . .
When our children were young and birthdays still held the magical power of persuasion that the earth stood still to welcome one’s arrival at the party, we would read these words to them on their birthday eves. The book–among the most precious gifts one can be given–was from Aunt Laurel.
I never let go of a good children’s book, though some of them these days are difficult to come across. Last week, I fished through another of my random boxes of family belongings. (Aunt Laurel also masterfully packed up and labelled boxes during last month’s move, including the jackpot: “Official George Carlin Box: ‘Move your s*** over so I can put my stuff down!'” She has mad organizational skills.)
I found the tiny swirling blue hardcover, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and remembered how our children would love sitting on Jim’s lap as he read it to them, unfolding the pop-up pages with big-eyed wonder, believing that their impossibly tall, protective, superhuman dad really could procure a star for them if that were their wish.
(Warning: Pity Party Alert….)
Last night was my birthday eve. Its nearly perfect full moon ushered in waves of my worst nightmares (the variety that seemed at least mildly improbable only until the 12:10 p.m. moment of my husband’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer): murky green icy water enveloping and drowning me as I tried to make my way across a side-less arched cement bridge; murderers creeping around my family; buildings coming apart.
The wee hours of my solitary, nightmare-ridden night brought a peach-orange orb of sun. I tried to get outside quickly, but was delayed by beagle business.
It was cold enough that a few scattered drops fell from the sky like frozen tears on my cheeks.
By the time I could get outside unencumbered by enthusiastic hounds yanking at my camera hand, the only place to which I could walk and still capture the sunrise was an historic cemetery–just about the only place where I don’t feel Jim’s presence. He does not occupy a place below ground.
When I was of an age to be read birthday-eve books by my parents (and, frankly, for an unseemly number of years thereafter), I would hold my breath as we passed a cemetery.
By the time I actually blew out some of my cervical vertebrae as an adult, I could joke with my children about whether they may have stepped on too many cracks in the sidewalk. But they didn’t appear to have picked up on my childhood superstitions.
They are much more practical than I, and I hope their nights are more settled and their sleep more peaceful.
I still wish I could give them the moon, move the mountains for them.