i see the moon


I creep into your room after a long day

Trying in vain to silence the squeak of your un-oiled door

And the creak of the rogue floorboard beneath your soft pink carpet

I fix my gaze down at your bed

Trying to find you in the middle of the chaos

So unlike your sister, whose head never moves from her pillow

You perform complex acrobatics in your sleep

You are the leader of a nocturnal three-ring circus

A menagerie of animals peeks out from beneath your elbows, arms and hands; a tiger, a lion and a floppy blue dog lie squashed beneath your hips, knees and feet

I can’t imagine how you are comfortable, but you’d have it no other way

My eyes finally adjust to the darkness

And focus on your beautiful face, flush with sleep

I kiss your head and you roll toward me

Your slender arm wraps around my neck, securing me in a delicious headlock

I whisper to you in the darkness

I love you so much, baby girl

You murmur back – your little voice thick and drunk with sleep

Love you

I sink to my knees as if in prayer

How many nights before have I spent right here watching you, just like this?

Someday if you ask why I lingered at your bedside for so long

I will tell you

Just to be close to you, my sweet girl. To be in your world when all was quiet; when the storms had finally passed. When the sun had packed your worries away and taken them along on its journey to the other side of the world.

To find peace in knowing that the moon stood guard at your window, bathing you in its sweet, protective glow. Yes, just to be close before the sun returned.

Through the haze of memory, I hear your Papa’s ~ my Dad’s ~ booming tenor.

I see the moon and the moon sees me.

“HI, JESSIE,” he’d say in his strong, deep voice. He was every bit the moon.

I followed, playing the part of the wide-eyed little girl, believing that the moon could speak. And would. To me.

“Hi, Moon!”

We play those roles now, don’t we, baby? You and me? Mama’s moon is an alto at best, but it’s the moon you know. The moon that speaks to you, follows you, watches you. The moon that keeps that damn sun at bay.

Will it one day be the moon that you’ll remember as you kneel by your daughter’s bedside? Dare I hope? Dare I believe it possible?

I try to shift my weight a little, but you make it clear that you aren’t going to let my neck go. I have no interest in freedom, so I rest my head on your unused pillow.

As I listen to you breathe, I think about the day. I think about how much angst swirled around your universe, how much effort went into trying to make your world OK.

The phone calls, the e-mails and the meetings. The discussions about flaring anxiety, the trouble at school. The concerns over piling up reports of ‘up and down’ days and ‘rough’ mornings. The conversations about the ‘I don’t want to go’s’ and the ‘I want to go home’s’, the abundant requests for breaks and the effects of constantly shuffled support staff. The checking in and the re-checking in and the wondering – good God, the wondering – the desperate, impotent, heartbreaking wondering – about what really happens all day long when YOU. CAN’T. TELL. ME. My wanting so badly to trust the people who do tell me, but worrying – desperately, impotently, heartbreakingly worrying – about the inherent flaw in a system that has a vested interest in making sure that I believe that all is well. The pit in my stomach when I asked you about your fourth grade buddy from school, after your aide that day had told me that you’d spent a class period getting to know each other but that you’d been having a ‘rough time.’ The pit getting bigger when you squeaked out another pained, ‘I don’t know’ and I finally had to acknowledge that you couldn’t tell me a solitary thing about your buddy. That you hadn’t even heard her name. The subsequent wondering what ‘rough time’ might really have meant. The frustration. The tears – yours, mine, ours.

You turn away without warning, freeing my neck from your grasp as you curl around your favorite doll. I don’t want our time to be over, but I take your lead. It’s time for me to go.

I nuzzle your back one last time and whisper into your warm neck, ‘Mama loves you, sweet girl.’

As I walk to the door, that darn floorboard gives me away. You open your eyes, but just as quickly surrender again to sleep. I close your door slowly. It’s time for Mama to sleep too. And I will – for a while at least.

Knowing that the moon is standing guard.

32 thoughts on “i see the moon

  1. Once again you’ve described my own emotions better than I ever could. If others could understand just one thing, it would be this…. “YOU CAN’T TELL ME”. The very source of my pain and anxiety.

  2. Almost speachless, but I want you to know that I still kneel by your bed each night, at least in my mind, and I too wish for you to have a better day tomorrow and to know that, “Daddy loves you always”, my little girl.
    p.s. I contracted with the same moon to continue to watch over you and yours forever…

  3. this is beautifully written jess. very warm and vibrant and a little heart breaking. i hope the turmoil at school is a passing thing, sorry to hear about that.

    anyway. i’m off to read this post again.

  4. You put what so many of us feel (especially at this time of year) into such beautiful words this morning… thank you lady. And hang in there.

  5. I think it causes me as much pain to believe that in his heart he does desperately WANT to tell me, but is truly unable to do so…thanks for the post that captures the feelings so well…

  6. Just as I stopped the tears from falling, I saw the comment from your dad! Jess, you have done it again,put words to the things I can’t find a way to say. was just having a “YOU CAN’T TELL ME”. discussion last night, trying to find out WHY my son says EVERY night, and EVERY morning, “No School” but His teachers tell me “he had a great day!” and I often slip in to watch him sleep….finally at peace after a long non stop moving, hyper active sometimes meltdown filled day

  7. So achingly lovely and heartbreaking. And as for “Dare I hope? Dare I believe it possible?” Even in the face of the roughest days I say heck yeah. And somewhere deep inside she will remember how your whispered words kept her safe and made her stronger. I know she will.

  8. That’s what gets me- every time- “I don’t know”- where they can’t tell you. The words aren’t there- either for her, or for our grief.

  9. Simply beautiful, and how lovely that such a wonderful tradition could be passed down to your daughter, and equally lovely that she can enjoy it. She knows how safe she is with you even if she can’t say it, I just know it in my soul.

  10. This is such an intimate post. I almost feel like a voyeur. How we want to be a fly on the wall and yet need to give our children wings. It’s so hard.

  11. Wow…have to agree with all the other comments. You put into words what so many of us are feeling. For me it’s times three. Miracles do happen to those that believe. Thank you for sharing

  12. Everything is different at night (except the wondering, I think that becomes more intense) I get this. Beautifully written.

  13. truth is that I can’t sleep sometimes until my son pidder padders into our bed…the moon is the light that helps me stare at his long lashes…calming me to sleep. you have a great “voice”.

  14. Oh Jess this is beautiful….and heartbreaking….I’m sending you so much love right now….D hoards stuffed animals in bed too, I have no idea how he manages not to fall out of bed every night.

  15. comments from FB

    PK ~ This post transcends a comment like “nice post.” It made me feel like I was right there with you in the tranquil moonlight trying to fend off the onslaught of what the next day would bring. One day at a time (sometimes one minute at a time, right?). Maybe she WILL be the one at her daughter’s bedside someday!

    SSS ~ in tears. amazing how I can relate SO much to this. thank you!!

    HPW ~ I look forward to your post every day. Thank you!

    KTK ~ Thank you for sharing with us and for reading our minds. Your posts always touch my heart.

    JMM ~ Ditto

  16. 5 stuffed animals, a witches hat, an empty cd case and Karen from Phineas and Ferb…..I know the whole bed thing too….and I love our snuggle time, treasure it as much as anything. love this post, xo!

  17. That description sounds very like me as a child. Childhood was not a pleasant time for me, but now I feel rather sorry for those who found it the happiest time of their lives—they’ve nothing else to look forward to, whereas I can be happy knowing it’s over now and I’m still alive.

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