This evening I packed up some dinner and took it to a quiet spot overlooking a canyon to watch the eclipse. I’ve always had a thing with the moon — maybe because I loved the book “Goodnight Moon,” or better yet, I grew up overlooking a massive canyon and befriended it over and over again.
As a kid, it felt so good knowing that my parents were tucked in their beds or roaming around the house as I peered out my bedroom window in awe of the moon. I’ll never forget hearing the sound of crickets chirping and the huge full white disc blazing in the sky.
While watching this evening, I couldn’t help but think about how much my mom would have liked to have been there with me. We had a knack for not missing out on the beautiful things in life.
Without asking for the memory, my mind took me to a moment that occurred this past December, a few days before Christmas.
That night I heard the sound of a firetruck. It kept ringing and ringing. Mom and I assumed there must have been a big accident near her house.
“Maybe I should go see what is happening,” I said. Mom looked at me with sad eyes, as she could barely stand up anymore and couldn’t get down the stairs to go with me. Her cancer was making her more immobile each day.
Her sadness was about much more than the fact that she felt horrible. It was so much more.
It was tied to the past. Our past. When I was a kid, Mom would hear sirens in town and suggest we go figure out what was going on. We’d run down to the garage, jump in the car, and adventure into the day or night in search of an accident, emergency, or fire.
Once we came upon a blazing structure fire. Another time, we discovered a few cars had crashed in an intersection. And sometimes, we couldn’t come up with anything. Regardless, we’d navigate the streets together and giggle as we knew we were being a bit silly… following sirens and all.
“Should I go?” I asked Mom last December eve. “I think I should see what’s up and I can tell you what I find.”
“Go then,” she responded dryly. She wasn’t happy… I knew it, but I couldn’t help it.
To be honest, I needed to leave for a bit. I craved to escape, to breathe, and have a moment to myself. I needed some joy and lightness. Even if it were for 10 minutes. Watching Mom wither away was killing me inside.
And so I drove off into the dark night – without her.
A few blocks away I came across something unexpected. A firetruck roaming through town with its lights blazing and siren ringing — pulling Santa Claus on a sleigh.
When I saw what it was, I started bawling — wishing my partner in crime could have come with me. I pulled out my phone and took a video… just for Mom.
When I got home, I ran upstairs to deliver the news. That Santa was in town for the kids to see. I pulled out the video to show her.
Mom bawled her eyes out. “I wish I could have gone, Jen. I wanted to go with you!”
We both sobbed and held each other. We knew our adventuring days together were over.
So tonight, as the moon went into full eclipse, that painful moment played through my mind as though it were yesterday.
I wished she could have been there with me. I wasn’t chasing sirens, but I was experiencing something special. A moment that I knew was coming for weeks and had hoped would stir my soul – or maybe give me a revelation about how to live my future.
The wind rustled the nearby trees. At one point, I swore I could hear Mom whisper a bit, “I’m here. Don’t worry, I’m here.”
I had a good cry.
My lesson tonight was bittersweet — I felt the same awe as I did as a child. Peering at the moon as it turned soft red at times and a bit black at others.
It’s wild — the silence you feel when someone you love isn’t there to adventure with you anymore. The moon still shines. The breeze still blows. And my heart, it still beats.
The only question is – “Where do I go from here?”
I guess in time I’ll know.