The moon glows bright to my left. I blink hard to wake up my eyes. It’s not even 5 a.m., and we’re headed west. I squint as we pass Busch Stadium, lit up like an all-hours convenience store.
I glance up at the moon, so full and bright it’s distracting. The fourth time I look up at it, I wonder if it’s a sign. This is a habit of mine, looking for signs, attaching meaning to found objects, making a story out of a pattern. But I can’t come up with anything for the moon at the moment.
Hours later, to pass time in the waiting room I will google “moon symbolism” and find it’s a symbol of the feminine, the rhythm of time, immortality, and some other vague abstractions. The first thing I thought of, and quickly put out of mind, was lunacy. Doesn’t the moon make people silly? Nurses and Pre-K teachers say so. Anyway, not the sign I’m looking for.
I’m taking my sister to the hospital for a seven-hour surgery and a three- to five-day stay. She has been waiting for this day after many years of pain and people assuming she’s being dramatic. Diseased joints are a fact, however, not merely a pretext for the dramatic. I’ll be her driver, durable power of attorney, in-home caregiver, ministry of information, advocate, and kung fu fighter (as needed).
I wonder if my sister notices me glancing up at the moon every half-mile. She seems to be asleep, but I can’t tell. The moon is so big – if I stretched out my arm, I could touch it.
She’s not sleeping. I notice this when we drive by SLU, lit up in blue and white. At the same moment, we turn and stare at the north campus, marveling at the changes — new buildings, new street lamps. Amanda and I were at Saint Louis University at the same time for just a sliver of a year. We ran into each other on campus only once.
I came out of a restroom stall and saw my reflection in the mirror at a strange angle. My brain told me this was not possible. But there I was. The reflection looked at me with surprise. Until Amanda said “oh, hey,” I couldn’t quite process how the mirror had tricked me. She laughed, I laughed. Maybe we went out and had a bowl of soup in the student union, I’m not sure.
I’d found myself that day in the campus bathroom — well, not really but something very close.
Reflection — maybe that’s all the moon signifies. Which is fine. I was just kinda hoping for a white dove or a butterfly or even a cardinal flying in the moonglow. Something with wings, I guess, would be fitting. My sister is taking a leap of faith today. But then if she had wings, faith wouldn’t be necessary.
I veer right onto the exit ramp towards the hospital, my turn signal suddenly loud in the silence. We lose sight of the moon. I wince at the bright signs directing us to the surgical center, parking garage, reception desk.
At some point in the windowless no-man’s-land of pre-op, the sun rises. Amanda is under anesthesia most of the day. When she wakes up, maybe I’ll read her a horoscope she doesn’t believe in, just for kicks. I ran across several while googling for moon symbolism.
The full moon is a new moon. The new moon will mean something – not just the marking of time but something personal.
It has to.
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.”
-from The Message, Isaiah 43:18-19