Saturday, January 3, 2009

Calling the Moon

The moon lay low and huge on the western horizon as I drove home through the frigid night, like a cradle in the sky. It was yellow and wide, flat across the top but almost curving up at the edges like a giant, cosmic hammock, calling to me.

I am here, it said. Though you can't understand everything around me, I'm here.

Do you know that feeling, when you think about the universe and all that lies beyond? The mind almost shuts down, the enormity of the concept that space just goes on, and on, and on. That there are objects that orbit us and that we orbit; that stars are like the sun and perhaps there are more of us out there.
But the moon, it is a constant companion, closer and more intimate than the stars that twinkle behind it. It wanes and waxes, rises and sets, giving rhythm and predictibility to our night sky. The moon was there tonight, beckoning to me in its giant scale and open posture, reminding me of this: you must have faith, some things just are.
That feeling, that bedraggled, confused feeling that space arouses is where I have sat with what happens after death, with where our spirits go and what might possibly follow. I have never had a truly firm vision of heaven, probably a result of being without a sturdy, organized religion. Before Charlotte died, I don't know that I ever truly contemplated this, and when she did die, I imagined that things might be much easier if I were a staunch Roman Catholic or a born-again evangelical, in which case I would know with great certainty where my daughter had gone.

But I could tell you this, from the very beginning: she was not gone.

I knew this at the start because I had felt her life force only hours earlier and it was impossible that she could simply be gone. For five months she had filled me every day with life, twisting and squirming and hiccuping. She was even naughty, seeming to enjoy the game where she would pluck my ribs with an audible snap with her toes, I would push down on her tiny feet and hold them until they settled back behind my ribcage where they belonged, not tiny toes wrapped out in front and then pulled sharply back in a game of sorts. "Our only arguments," I would later sigh. But she had been there, so there, and so vital-- she was new, for goodness sake, not having even had one day to run through the grass in the warm sunshine, hair streaming behind her, whirling and swirling in circles and falling down in a pool of giggles. Could this being simply evaporate, vanish with a twist of the cord, and the cessation of pulse? To me, this seemed not possible. This energy, this vitality, it had to be somewhere.

I knew this also and for certain later that day, as I held her, because I could feel her in the room. Her energy had inhabited me when I gave birth to her, how else could I have accomplished that impossible task? As we held her, she lifted some of our veil of sadness so that we could be with her, so that we could breathe in her beauty and memorize her softness and come to know her for the baby that she was before we let her go. When we did, when our nurse walked out of the room and took Charlotte with her, I could feel the void where she had left, I felt her tiny, strong grip release and she let go, moving her energy to another place for the time being.

Another place. Another place? For some time, I wondered. Where? Here? Somewhere else? Nowhere? And then I remembered that we don't always know or understand all the answers, and they can still be the answers to our questions. This is the very essence of faith, is it not?

So I believe, I do believe, that there is something left. I don't have to understand the entire universe to know that there is a yellow moon hanging before me, glowing light into the dark winter night, smiling to itself as it sets. So also I do not have to know exactly what happens after you die to be sure that somewhere there is something left of my daughter, and I am careful to watch for signs that she is here.

They are everywhere.


Hope's Mama said...

So familiar Carol. That fateful day we lost Hope, when we were in the ultrasound room getting the horror confirmed, I kept saying "but she was alive an hour ago?" How could she be gone? She was right there! Still inside me. Only hours earlier had been entertaining me with the hiccups. And the day after when I birthed her, I just kept sobbing "but she was alive yesterday". Too much to comprehend. How could she be gone when she was still here and after having been so very, very vibrant for all of those months. It is just all so sad. I liked reading about the little games you used to play with Charlotte. I'm glad you can still recall those sweet memories so clearly. But I guess when that is all we have, we have to don't we? xo

ezra'smommy said...

What a beautiful post and how true. It took me a few weeks after Ezra had physically left us to realize that he wasn't gone at all, that he was with me at all times, I've written about this too. He awakens me to magic every day, in the antics of someone else's child who makes me smile despite my sad self, and in the beauty he lets me see in the world.

Sara said...

We talk about Henry being in heaven and take comfort in the image of him being welcomed by our family who went before him. Yet how we are in heaven is hard to picture or understand. I do think it is a mystery we don't have to fully understand. It is enough to know that spirits of the departed are somewhere.

I often lament that Henry and Kathleen will never know each other, yet I am certain that their spirits touched in that time when I could not longer hold him and I had yet to hold her.

Aimee said...

Carol, do you think Charlotte's spirit (or energy or "vibe" or whatever) in some ways is in Liam? Is Sophie's spirit in this baby? In the same way Liam would not be here if Charlotte had lived, the baby I'm feeling kicking right now would not be if Sophie had lived. While I am perfectly clear that Liam is not and will never be or replace Charlotte and this baby will never be or replace Sophie, could their spirits be intertwined in a way that most sibling spirits are not? That didn't make any sense, did it? But, since you and I have shown time and time again that we are on the same wavelength, I'm going to go with the idea that you at least partially know what I mean.

Danny, Julie, Jack and Mari said...

It's so tremendous to have someone KNOW. These thoughts are unique and yet ours together. The way you write about your beautiful daughter and the life force that she brought with her is exactly how I feel about my son. Our eyes never met, but his life is so very, very large.

I grew up in a very "organized" religious household and even at a very young age thought that people were just imagining pearly gates and streets of gold. None of us truly know, but there is peace in simply knowing that the moon is indeed hung. That's enough for me.