The clerestory windows in our bedroom frame the neighbor's old oak tree. They say they are cutting her down next year. She both doesn't have enough leaves and sheds too much. It feels impossibly modern and fussy to do this, impossibly self-indulgent and kind of sacrilegious. I sigh. I say a little wish and a little hex to myself.
Please no. Or else.
At night, I watch the tree silhouetted against the clouds blowing across the night sky. The clouds illuminated by the moon seem alive, migrating toward something large and impenetrable. It feels ancient, this ritual of watching the night sky. It feels important. We are a tribe. My family, that is. It feels like we are a thousand miles from New Jersey. We are a thousand miles from civilization. Lucy's death makes sense here. Our survival makes sense here. The Hunter's Moon, so called because it was so bright and vivid you could hunt elk at night, though waning these nights, has been rising in our window. The brightness wakes us both at 2 am. And so, suddenly, we turn toward each other, grasp hands over the sheets. We are half asleep, confused. The light makes our faces look like when we first became lovers, magical and important. "The moon," he whispers. "The moon."
We have a chill here now, a fire perpetually in the wood stove. We light candles at night, make tea and sit on the rug telling stories. The smell of burning oak takes me to the place with the Hunter's Moon. So far away, so primal, it has always been a part of me.
I feel something these days. I feel...something.
I can't quite describe it except to say that the moon wakes me.
I used to worry that my inability to imagine my children meant that they would all be taken from me. I can't see them older than they are. I can't imagine them being adult, or even older children. They are perpetually the age they are until they are not.
My son is seven months old. My daughter is three years and seven months. My grief is almost two years old. And yet, it is much older than that. Lucy's death touched the grief that already existed in me. I realize that now. Her death reminded me of all I have not let myself feel. All the grief, I balled into a little black pebbles and stuffed into the back of my heart. All the times I bragged over beers that I never cried, it flooded me when she died.
I was never the person I thought I was. Never. I feel the grief now of three decades. Grief at my father's illness. Grief at the neglect of my teenage years. Grief at creepy old men. Grief at watching my most prized love suffer. Grief at my mother issues. Grief at friendship breakups. Grief at the divorce, and the loss of my home, and burglaries, and losing my seventh grade boyfriend to the girl who gave blow jobs.
The other name for this moon is the Beaver Moon, or the Frost moon. I love that each moon is given a name in Algonquin and Celtic circles. This is the time of the year when the frost moves in and everything prepares for hibernation. I prepare in me. I prepare my grief season. Make my bed, and light my candles. I will take down my ofrenda tomorrow. The joy seems to immediately dissipate with Halloween done. I feel staid and decidedly adult. We will make a new altar for Lucy, the autumn altar. With gnomes and acorns and very tiny things that we find to remind us of her never growing bigger.
I am not sad right now. I am not sad. I am just waiting for the Oak Moon, the Cold Moon. I am waiting for Santka Lucia Day, and a wreath of candles. I am waiting for solstice. I am waiting to make a large bonfire. She will always be with fire.
I don't know what it is about now. I just feel something.