My granddaughter, Sofia, with the help of her mother, called me excitedly tonight on the cell phone from her home in Washington, DC. "I found the moon Grandpa! And it's right outside my window. We don't have to chase it in the car!"
Four weeks earlier, she and her mother--my beautiful daughter Mishi--had visited my me and my wife in Pacific Palisades, California, for their once a year July/August vacation.
One night during their two week vacation, as our family was driving back home from Santa Monica, Sofia had seen from the car window the nighttime moon, high in the Los Angeles sky. It was round and white, and it seemed to hold a particular fascination for her. Sofia is three and a half years of age, and I suppose all the world is wondrous and mysterious at that age, new and discoverable daily.
The next night, while sitting around the house after dinner, Sofia looked out the window to find the moon; but the moon wasn't visible in the sky. We live behind the hillside. She was disappointed. She wanted to see the moon again. I told her to finish her ice cream and we would get in the car and 'chase the moon'. We'd find it, I assured her. It was somewhere. Her eyes lit up.
We put on our slippers, I got the keys to the car from my pants pocket upstairs, and in our pajamas we went to the car. We drove a short distance, up the hill, overlooking the high school...and there it was. The beautiful full moon again, white in the distant sky.
Sofia was delighted. Her smile lit up the car like the moon lit up the nighttime sky.
The next night, at home, Sofia looked out the window again. But once again, the moon was not to be seen. Sofia was undaunted; and determined. "We've got to go in the car and chase the moon Grandpa
!!" she emphasised. So we got in the car again, drove up the the hill again, to the same spot as the previous night, overlooking the high school. But this time: no moon; I had forgotten it was it was earlier in the evening than it had been last night. The moon had not risen yet above our horizon. "Its not there"
she said. She was so disappointed. I was crushed. I said, "We'll have to chase it some more." So we drove rapidly across the village center to the road leading up the hill to Will Roger's State Park. And...as we ascended the crest of the higher hill...there it was, the moon. "The moon, Grandpa!"
she screamed. The smile across her face was worth a thousand journeys across a million villages in all the world.
Sofia is, as I said, is only three and a half years of age, and many, many, new things are entering her consciousness every hour of every day. The world...and especially a cross-continent visit to Gammy's and Grandpa's...were filled with many daily new things: the wave-breaking ocean, sandcastles in the sand, Rustic Canyon swimming pool, Santa Monica pier and its Merry-Go-Round. For the rest of her visit, she never spoke of the moon again.
A week later she was gone. A huge hole appeared in our hearts.
Three days later she called. She told Grammy how glad she was to be back in Washington, at home, with her beloved 'Papi', with her dolls and her friends in the park. She listed the friends by names: Anya, Norma, Carmen and Josey. At the end of the conversation, just before hanging up, she said: "Don't you and Grandpa forget me."
When I got home that night, when my wife told me about Sofia's worry about our forgetting her, my heart skipped a beat. The opposite was more the case. What if we died soon? Would she forget us?
Tonight, when her call came, telling us she had found the moon again, I stopped worrying. It seems memories, deep in the heart, like moons far in the sky, may last forever.