MOON FOR MOM ~ Marye Gail Harrison


My 92 year old mom was lying in the hospital bed, rubbing her hands around her distended belly, enormous in her 95 pound body.

“What’s in there?” she said.

“I think you swallowed the moon.”

“Looks like it,” she chuckled.

No more surgery to try to fix it, she stated clearly over and over. She was ready to die. She’d had a long, good life she said and she was grateful but ready to go, unafraid.  Gracefully, with resolution, she counseled all who questioned her.

From her hospital room on the 12th floor, her only view was abstract art at best – the lower two thirds was grey water stained building ledge, above it was a slash of sky. She loved nature with its rich greens, bright flowers and colorful birds; I was disappointed for her.

That night she asked what the round white light in the window was. “Oh, it’s the moon,” she murmured as she turned her whole body toward it. She was still watching it with a little smile on her lips, stomach pumping tube running out her nose, when I left later that night. Life gives you lemons, make lemonade – that’s how she lived.

Disconnected from all the tubes and discharged to a nursing home for hospice care a few days later, she wondered if she could see the moon from her new room. We celebrated the next night when the almost full moon emerged from behind a tower right into view from her bed.

The following two nights were cloudy. She was waning more quickly than the moon now, tolerating only ice chips, red popsicles, and spoonsful of warm sweet tea with milk.

When the moon finally emerged it was behind a blue spruce and too far to the left for her to see it. Gathered at her bedside at 9 PM, the evening nurse, mom’s best friend, my step daughter and I were all frustrated. Mom was too weak to stand or even use the wheel chair, although her mind was still as lucid as the moon light.

Inspired by a friend’s mirror story, I took the large mirror off the wall where it hung over a bureau and turned it toward her. In the darkness, the reflected moon traveled like a pale white spot light on the wall behind her bed.

I aimed it onto her face. There she shone in the moonlight smiling. In her eyes, I could see tiny moons gleaming back to me.

Five days later, Mom died peacefully on a beautiful morning with the sun shining in her window.