Despite the phases of the moon, I always know its there. This provided a great deal of comfort as a child when both my parents were working. It made me understand that despite not physically being present or visible 24/7, they were always there watching over me ... the moon and my parents. Throughout the week, I’d see them at odd hours as they quickly grabbed a bite to eat or were finally able to rest after a rigorous workday. The weekends were full of adventures. Full of quality time. Full of wishes hoping the weekend wouldn’t come to an end. The weekend was also when my mom would get the chance to read a bedtime story for me.
My favourite bedtime story throughout my childhood years was “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth. The book is a recollection of events a mama bear and her cub experienced throughout the day. What stood out to me most was that each activity was beautifully drawn, simply explained and had a gentle rhyme scheme that kept me engaged. I didn’t know it then, but I’d recall the regular events we had done and be mindful of my experiences. Taking in the crisp air, listening to the orchestra of sounds in the wild, the pitter patter of rain on my skin, recognizing all those simple experiences enriched my understanding of the world. I'm quite amazed at how a children's book would allow me to have such profound experience in life, being truly present and taking in my surroundings. It even encouraged my imagination as I thought about all the adventures I still had yet to experience and the stories I had yet to share.
The story ends with the mama bear saying “I love you to the moon and back” to her cub, which I longed to hear from my own mom as well, but she simply read the phrase. It wasn’t until much later I found out how common words of affection were in other households. I wished for the same of my household, but I wouldn’t change how things were because my parents were affectionate towards me in their own ways. Neither of my parents were emotionally expressive people. Words of affection and even affirmation weren’t really communicated within my household. Instead, they’d talk about their experiences and what they were currently focused on. They were burned by hope too much to keep hoping. Weathered by failed expectations and unfortunate circumstances, they focused on what was in their control, including emotions. They showed their care through their actions. It was by making sure the others were never too hot or too cold, that a fresh plate of food was ready to eat, and that there was some sort of family bonding activity on a weekly basis. We didn’t have much growing up, but I had the food I wanted, the clothes I needed and shelter welcoming enough to call home.
Having worked a variety of jobs, sometimes multiple at once, I hated the days they weren’t home at night. I’d stay at my uncle’s place, but it wasn’t the same. Although I knew his home well, the space was still foreign to me. I could see the similarities between my dad’s and uncle’s mannerisms, their speech and undoubtedly their face, but there was still enough differences that made me want to be home and with my parents. And on those weeknights, I’d look out the window, trying to find the moon. Fortunately, the window in the room I stayed allowed me to see the moon whenever it was visible and the sky was clear. I’d stare intently at the moon, saying a prayer to protect my parents and wishing for more adventure the next weekend. I had also wished for it to always stay fully lit and the weekend to be longer, but those wishes were never fulfilled.
My love for the moon has since strengthened and I always find comfort recognizing its presence. On dark nights when I go for walks, I use the moonlight as my guide, hoping that with each step, I draw closer to being able to reach out and grasp it. Hope is a feeling I still so naively hold onto. Knowing that some things are just out of my control, but the peace provided by hoping makes it very difficult to give that up. I still pray to the moon, hoping the people I care about are well taken care of in this life and despite it never being openly said to me, I will continue to love the close people in my life, to the moon and back.