Tag Archives: dancing in moonlight

Caregiving

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a mandala of the supermoon and trees in a kaleidoscope of tears.It was late when we got the discharge papers and I drove my friend Annette home from Cayuga Medical Center. Even my son was fast asleep by the time I pulled into my own driveway. But I was wide awake, my head pulsing with something like pride. With memories: home from the hospital. It transported me back to the times in and out of hospitals with my daughter during her almost-three years of cancer. Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester is the place I last “left” Marika. The hospital is where I first learned I was a caregiver.

When one you love becomes sick, you become a caregiver. No references or prior experience necessary. You learn on the job. Patience. Attentiveness. Compassion. You learn to let go of what you cannot control. You learn how much there is to lose: breath, balance, mobility, independence, …hope. The certainty of being able to go home.

“When can I go home?” is what everyone asks in the hospital, sitting around waiting, watching the world pass you by while you’re stuck there. The goal is to get out. But for me, for almost three years, my whole world was right there in the hospital. Whenever I left without Marika, my heart was tethered to that place. Maybe it still is.

In the end, I did not bring my daughter home. Instead, I dragged home the heartbroken remains of who I was, and the beginnings of the person I would grow into over the next years: one who loves life and doesn’t discount it by who or how much she’s lost, but rather gauges good living by what she can put right and save.

“It feels good to be needed again, to be able to help,” I’d said, when I delivered Annette to her apartment and she thanked me like I’d given her gold. Then the waning supermoon followed me home across two hills and a valley, peeking through clouds and bare branches. It made a giant mesh of moon-shadows in my driveway. Almost midnight, everything was silent and still. Except for me. I felt like skipping. Dancing in the moonlight. And I don’t know if I was speaking to the moon, my daughter’s spirit, or God when I whispered, “Hey. I brought someone home tonight.” The moon, the branches, my pride, longing, love, and gratitude were all kaleidoscoped by my tears.

 

What makes you want to sing and dance in the moonlight at midnight?

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Singing to the Moon

Singing to the Moon, Robin Botie in Ithaca, New York, sings to the moon, to her daughter in the moon.“ I see the moon. The moon sees me. The moon sees the one I long to see,” I’d sung as a girl and later as a mother holding my young daughter.

In the first days after my daughter died I felt her presence all over the house. But in a week, after I brought her life-sized portrait home and started talking to it, she seemed to fade away. Then something was drawing me out into the night, out to the driveway where the wind roared as it rocked tall trees over me.

I’d never felt comfortable outside alone in the dark before. But there was little to fear next to the nightmare I’d already survived. After my daughter died, nighttime became one of the gifts I got. And now, even in rain or snow, I bundle up in a down coat, grab the flashlight and my inherited dog, and walk up and down the long pebbly driveway, searching for stars, sometimes dancing with the dog in the moon-shadows.

“Hey. Marika-in-the-moon,” I call to her when it’s a full moon. When it’s a fingernail moon. On moonless nights when the sky is a thick blanket of cloud. Every night. This is when I feel closest to my daughter.

Our planet has one moon. I’ve been singing to it all my life. We can’t always see the moon but we know it is there. Our ancestors watched it and our children’s children will look up to the same night sky. And wherever my daughter is, or is not, if she were to look for light in the dark night, she would look to the moon. So I keep singing to the same moon.

Where or when do you feel closest to the one you love who died?

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