Saturday, April 4, 2009

Full Moon Over Ila

Several years ago, a friend of mine suffered the unspeakable horror of losing her daughter in a car accident. Four times a father, I can think of nothing worse, sitting here immobilized for minutes just by writing that sentence.

Not knowing her so well at the time, I gave Jeannie room to mourn with loved ones privately, then visited a few months later to pay my respects, expecting to find a woman red-eyed and swollen with grief. No amount of sunshine could flood a room with more angelic energy than emanated from her bright eyes.

“I’m awesome!” She claimed.

At first, I suspected her posture was a sad denial of the reality of her loss, a safety mechanism to protect her from an inevitable depression. Knowing her much better in the years since, I am convinced that the spirit of Ila lives close on the shoulder of her mother, whispering sage observations and delighting in the daily details that any mother and daughter might share.

At a gathering one day, Jeannie was approached by the mother of a classmate of Ila who had been delayed by an urgent need of her daughter to read a poem she had just scribbled. It was uncharacteristic for the child to be poetic, more so to insist it be shared. When questioned where the beautiful image had come from, she answered simply, “I don’t know, Mommie, it just came to me.”

If you are up at half past nine
When the moon is up in the star lit sky.
You will know why the moon is there
To shine a bright glittery trail.
To a place where happiness is all there is
No wars, no guns no need to fight.
That’s the place I’ll be tonight.

By now it was natural for Jeannie to recognize connections in the strangest circumstances, so in this she sensed the spirited hand of her own daughter. The calendar revealed that the next full moon in August was the eleventh anniversary of Ila’s conception, producing shivers down Jeannie’s spine. Often seeing the full moon over their years together, Ila had asked her mother to recount the story of that special one, adoring all the details that testified to the love that had brought her here.

On her way home this August evening, two years after her daughter’s death, the full moon was indeed truly astounding: sharp, clear, immensely bright, encircled in radiance. Jeannie pulled over and communed, feeling her daughter’s presence, witnessing the beauty of life, death and all the glory of the spirit.

“I’m with you, Sweetie,” she cried with joy, “I love you.”

She called her friend, a photographer, and without preamble or excuse, ordered her to run outside to get a picture of this blessed moon. Reading the poem to her friend later by way of explanation, they checked and discovered the time of the call was exactly half-past nine.

But this tale of beautiful love and reassurance does not stop with just the mother, daughter and this picture of their moon. The tale was brought to a musician who was moved to write its glories into song.

A few weeks ago, for the benefit of Kids on the Block, a worthy Vermont cause, Karen McFeeters debuted her new CD “Here and Now” featuring the song entitled “Ila’s Moon”. A wonderful show in any regard, the telling of this story and the emotional delivery of the song carried the evening to a special moment of love and healing, crowned by the two women meeting for the first time for an embrace in the aisle.

Listen with your heart to this song, open your ears to the voices around you, your eyes to the mysteries before you. Know that you are loved and that the kindness of strangers can bring wonderful gifts. Believe that the connections of spirit are stronger than death.
Please share with your friends


laughingirl said...

I was fortunate to witness that hug between Jeannie & Karen at the song's premier. The healing and love emanating from both women showed me that Ila herself continues to shine her love on her mother and beyond.
This blog entry and Karen's song are touching tributes.

Hayden Tompkins said...

This is... so incredibly touching. What an amazing story.

Laurie said...

Beautiful............both the song and your words Kip.

I am just sitting here taking it all in again.