Hello, Little Starfruit!
Tomorrow is the first day of autumn and it’s also my first day at my little job as Interim Director of Digital Publications at Prometheus Books, so we have more reasons to celebrate. We love celebrating the seasons and holidays, and we love celebrating new beginnings. I know one thing we won’t be celebrating, though, and that is our separation.
Our week and a half together was blissful and busy, which made it especially hard for us to switch gears and say farewell for another period apart from one another. Our periods of separation have made us much more aware of time, dates, and seasons, haven’t they. Elanah, you had an especially difficult time with our “see you soon” yesterday morning, my little rose, and while you were weeping in my arms, you wanted me to tell you the exact dates I will be back to see you again. You wanted, in fact, me to show you on a calendar so Momma Si took out her phone, and we had a peek at it. This got me thinking: the three of us should have a special calendar that we can decorate to mark the days we are together, and one that you can use to count our days and weeks apart, as well as to X out the days as they pass and look at our progress toward our goal of being together. It always helps me, when I am feeling sad and impatient, to have a concrete goal I can visualize.
As soon as I arrived home last night, after talking to the two of you over Facetime during the last leg of my long, boring drive, I had three bowls of Count Chocula and went online shopping to find us a moon calendar. I found one right away that will allow us to also think about the cycles of the moon when we are looking at the big picture of our year. This is our special Moon Mother calendar, a calendar meant to mark what is important to us– us. I am reminded of a funny little story about my first semester of college, when I went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts. I made friends with a group of awesome dudes with whom I sat in the cafeteria for most of my meals. They became my friends for life. Well, one night, I got into a goofy mood, put on a purple robe, and dragged them out for a walk under the moon in the orchard on campus. I carried a giant rainbow umbrella and made us all gather under it, until I went running off to sing songs to the moon. I called myself Sorceress Opalius, because the opal is my birthstone and opals remind me of the moon.
So I declared myself “Moon Mother” and my friends my “moon daughters.” One of my dear friends, Theresa, still honors the tradition. She made/painted you both that beautiful rainbow mural with the moons on it. Such a good daughter! I miss her a lot. I miss them all. We laughed so much together, and she and my other moon daughters were so much fun and funny and kind. Alex, Stephanie, Michele, Diana, and Manny. They are your big moon sistrrr-s, the daughters of the moon that came before The Two Great Stars of My life: you.
My hall-mate, Jarrad was in on the moon worshiping action, too. Jarrad was my fabulous friend and sistrrr, so he’s your fabulous faraway moon aunt. Our rooms were across from one another, and he used to refer to me, rather loudly, as “RECLUSE,” because I had a habit of spending a lot of time alone in my room while the other hall mates were congregating. On, or near, my eighteenth birthday, he named me his ‘White Winged Dove’, and we danced together to Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” another memory I will never forget. At the time, I felt melancholy and like life was a struggle, but now I look back on those times and I think I had it pretty good and easy. Interesting how time can affect one’s perspective.
Which leads me back to the moon. Taking walks under the moon, while listening to music (usually the Indigo Girls and Enya), was one of my favorite pastimes and is still one of my favorite activities. I used to do it late, late at night on Chasewood Lane, as Chasewood offers a GREAT view of the moon, and I used to do it almost every night during those late summer and autumn months at Hampshire College. Hampshire had a big tree, near the orchard, with a swing, and I would sit, swinging gently, under it, while I gazed upon the harvest moon over the fruit trees, dreaming about all sorts of things, but mostly love. My moments in the grass in East Amherst, NY and my meditations on the harvest moon at Hampshire in Amherst, Massachusetts, during that transitional period of my life, are some of my favorite memories. I didn’t feel alone; I felt very connected to my surroundings and very much at peace. I have always loved the moon. As you both know.
So we will have our very own moon calendar, my little stars, to honor our mother-daughter relationship and to keep track of our phases of togetherness and separation. “The moon will watch over us, the moon will sweetly protect us,” like we must believe that God will keep us from harm and watch over our lives… and like we must believe that we will be together (according to the moon calendar). I am looking into when I will be able to visit you next, and as soon as I know, I will send the calendar with it marked in, colorfully.
“Calendar Girls” is a song by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield that your Aunt Missy and your mummy performed in a middle school talent show. I came up with the idea, for the most part, and then we enlisted a crew of schoolmates to each play a month, in costume. It was great fun. I was March (I wore what looked like a wedding dress and dance-marched across the stage to “March, I’m gonna march you down the aisle) while Missy played the part of February and dressed up like a human valentine, with a big cardboard heart on both sides of her (to the tune of “You’re my little valentine”). What months would you want to play? January? October? I like the October Romeo and Juliet reference. The most important line, of course, is this one, “I love, I love, I love my little calendar girl / each and every day of the year.” You’re my little calendar girls!
What a whirlwind of a visit we had! I made four 13-hour drives in the Medusa Mobile, safely and successfully. I do feel like God, as well as the moon, was watching over us, because I know there were times there, out in the vast and midnight-stark cornfield between 12 and 3 am, that I was fighting for our lives to keep my eyes open. The Mike & Ikes and the wintergreen Altoids could only do so much. But we made it. We made it twice, and I made it four times, even despite almost being hit on a couple of occasions by people driving dangerously and not watching where they were going. We made it.
We spent a week together, we snuggled, we started reading Harry Potter, and we discussed our sorting house result predictions (I am willing to bet a big box of Mike & Ikes that Momma Si = Ravenclaw, Darah = Gryffindor, and Elanah = Hufflepuff). I will find us a quality sorting hat quiz soon, Dar, but, you know, only the soul/brain-reading Sorting Hat on High can truly determine your houses. Of course, it’s not the house that makes the family– we’re all part of the same school, and that’s what matters. But it’s still fun to muse upon these things, for hours and hours, like, for instance, on the kind of tree from which the wand that chooses us would be made.
Vol– I mean You-Know-Who’s wand was made from the wood of a Yew tree, but Harry’s mum, Lily’s was made from a willow tree. We love trees like we love the moon. They go together. I remember how last year, the two of you came up with the idea of planting trees in Momma Si’s honor, as a gift to her. It was a great idea, and I am so proud of you for thinking of it. It made your momma proud, and now, thanks to you and the Arbor Day Foundation, there are a couple more trees growing somewhere, making the air on Earth a little healthier. Trees are fascinating. The names of trees, alone, are interesting to me.
Another reason to love the autumnal season that’s upon us is that it’s tree-planting season. It’s a great time to plant trees because, as the executive of the Arbor Day Foundation reminds us, it’s a time when young roots are stretching and anchoring. Stretching and anchoring. Those sound like worthy activities. We want a greener, healthier world to live in. There is no world to live in without some green, as one of our favorite movies, Wall-E, reminds us. Green is powerful. Green is life. That’s why I’m proud to call myself not just a witch but a GREEN witch, and that’s why I make my ideogram on Disney Mix green-haired (or green-faced). Mummy Witch. It’s also why I keep my thumb nail painted green, in honor of Green Thumb, of trees, of green, of witches, of life. If the birds and the bees scare us (ahem: Darah), we’ve got to be brave and learn their ways, because they are the closest companions of the green. If you come to Buffalo this spring, we’re definitely going to the botanical gardens for a mum-kid date. Can’t wait!
You know what else greens, and trees, and gardens, need, aside from the sun, the moon, and the birds and bees? Water! Rain!
Rain replenishes and restores and revives. It creates life. That is why we should not be sad that it rained on Uncle Billy and Aunt Kate’s wedding day; we should celebrate… and we did. A more appropriate symbol of the start of something, the birth of something, does not exist. The rain that drenched us all is a symbol. It was like God was up there, above us, planting Billy and Kate in the garden of marriage, and then gracing their union with rain so that they can grow in love together. Rain. Tears of love.
Love and marriage are not about having the perfect hair or the perfect dress, anyway. Screw the dress, I say. Or, better yet, water it like a bouquet.
Before the sun can soak up the rain, there must be rain. The marriage ceremony is the rain, setting the roots of the betrothed deep into the earth together– Billy and Kate’s love is like a tree that was just planted. Scorching sun before a little water would kill the tree. The rain needs to come first.
Okay, okay. This is all just to say that I think it was beautiful that there was a torrential downpour of rain during the wedding ceremony because it brought us all together, under umbrellas and in our hearts, and showed us the beauty of love, as demonstrated by Billy and Kate, and by the whole family who cheered them on through globs of rain and tears of joy.
I know you will remember their wedding for the rest of your lives. I am so glad I did what I had to do to make sure you were at their wedding so that you could see a celebration of love. I want you to both believe in love. I pray that you do and always will.
“From where I stand, the sun is shining all over the place”
Celebrations of love happen all the time. I celebrate our love every single day, come rain or come shine. My happiest moment at the wedding was dancing with the two of you– with family and friends. It was so much fun, and watching you dance and dancing with you was such bliss! A moment to cherish forever. We had a blast. I particularly loved it when Grandma Mel was dancing with us. Seeing that happiness on her face and feeling that happiness in my heart was something I will always cherish. The pure joy on her face while she held our hands and trotted along was priceless. I saw people come together on the dance floor, people who wouldn’t have otherwise done so, and that just reaffirmed the positive power of art (in this case, music and dance). Duke Orsino knew what he was talking about– music is the food of love! And love, forgiveness, and mercy are what we live on, given to us by divine grace (whom I and many others call God).
Billy told us, before we drove back, that us coming to Buffalo for his wedding made it special to him and Kate. And he knew that the fact that we came was because we love Kate and him so much. Sacrifices and celebrations make strong families, and ours is a strong family. Your Momma Si and Mummy might have some issues right now, and Momma Si says very decidedly that she and I are not a family, and that is her right to view it that way. I see it a little differently; I will always see your Momma Si as family because she is your other mother– the two of you are what makes us a family forever, just like Missy, Billy, Joey, and I make Gramma Sue and Dimpy a family forever, even though they are divorcing. All people are made part of a family through love. And you are the wellsprings of love that bind us together. Music reminds us of that love we carry and that love that connects us, and it takes us to a place where we can recognize it, and that is why I will always see music and art as divine.
We managed to attend a wonderful wedding, have an early birthday party, AND get back in time to celebrate your Momma Si’s birthday with her favorite kind of cake: cheese (cake). I hope you will give her foot rubs because they help her with her foot pain. I used to give people in my family foot rubs when I was a kid. Not sure why I liked doing that, but I did. I was a weird kid, I guess you could say.
Elanah, as you know, I cannot be with you on your actual birthday. This is very sad for you and for me. I tried to do what I could to make a special birthday party for you while you were here, but I know it’s just not the same. In fact, right after the party, when we were driving out of Buffalo, you said, “I would trade the birthday party to have you with me on my birthday.” And then you cried. And my heart ached because I knew it and know it. I told you, “I know, Sweetie.”
Right there and then, we understood an important lesson: being together is worth more than cake, presents, and parties. You can have every material thing in the world and still feel sad and like something’s missing when you’re apart from the ones you love. I wish I could shield you from having to feel the sadness and the worry, but I can’t. It’s part of life and I am sorry it’s part of yours so early. Please continue to pray. I will try to continue to pray, too. I am a believer in good things happening and in things generally working out. We must try to do our best every day, but the world will present us with lots of challenges and sorrows, so we must try to believe in God and believe that what we are going through now is part of a bigger plan for our lives. Keep talking to your counselor and to me and to Momma Si, sweeties, but also know that reaching out to others around you is good, too. And don’t forget to look up at the moon.
Think of Harry Potter: his parents died trying to protect him when he was just an infant. He didn’t know of them for eleven years, but he spends many years afterward learning about them. He carries the sadness and yearning of missing them in his heart but is always connected to them, in physical and spiritual ways. We’ll talk more about that as we read together over the next few years. Love is magical.
It’s almost time for you to get off the bus. That means it’s almost time for me to Facetime with you. And then it’s time for me to settle in and get ready for my first day at work tomorrow. I am nervous and excited. Whatever happens, I know that at the end of the day, I am meeting your Aunt Missy and our friend, Rachel, out for dinner. I’m sure we’ll laugh and celebrate. Rachel is a really positive, fun, uplifting person. I met Rachel in high school and we were great friends. We were even in a book club together called the Live Readers’ Society (she and I were co-presidents of the club). Anyway, she and I go way back. And then Missy met her years later when they were both teaching at the same middle school, and they became great friends. And, of course, Rachel LOVES your cousin Harper. Aunt Kate and I want to start up a book club with Missy and Rachel where we’ll discuss books while sharing a bottle of wine. I can’t wait for the day when we (that’s you two and the lot of us and even Momma Si if she’ll come) all live in the same town and can discuss books and things while drinking TEA together! Yay. Keep the dream alive.
Smile, my little cabbages. My pumpkins. My little roses. My lumps of sugar. Fruit of my heart!
Speaking of fruit of the heart, mango season has come to a close and harvest season is now underway. I hope you will get out to a pumpkin farm soon. I will never forget the little pie pumpkin that we got that we put into pumpkin pancake batter one year– those pumpkin pancakes were THE BEST pancakes I have ever had. I still think about them. It’s not the size or shape of the pumpkin; it’s what’s inside that counts!
Have you noticed all of the pet names I’ve used in this post? Yes, my little doves, before I started to write to you, I was reading a fun list of terms of endearment used across the world so I have some new ideas for names for you. This is the article, “Languages of Love,” that contains the names and background on them: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22699938
The best names are the ones we invent.
I love you, my licorice twists! My golden acorns! My little lemon wedges! I’m going to make a cup of tea and call you.
Your Moon Mummy Always,