The Moon Sees Somebody I’d Like to See

Our older son raced off to Washington D.C. just days after his first year of college was over. He got the call that he had been accepted into a congressional office as an intern and, poof, he was gone. Soon after he left I was outside looking at the moon. I was reminded of a song I used to sing to our two boys when they were little, so I wrote the verses on a card and sent them off to him: “I see the moon and the moon sees me, the moon sees somebody I’d like to see. God bless the moon and God bless me and God bless the somebody I’d like to see.” When I spoke to him later I asked if he recognized the words. He said, “Oh yes, I remember them like it was yesterday.”

I didn’t tell him it sometimes feels like it was yesterday for me. That, as I watch my next door neighbor and her two little boys, I sometimes physically feel what it was like to be at home with my two “under-threes”. Taking walks, wiping away tears and sitting on the back porch with one in my lap, or both.

After his arrival in D.C. we decided to Skype one evening. My sons are always a block or two ahead of me where technology is concerned, but I finally figured it out and was glad to see his face. As we chatted I realized he was lonely, even with all his technology and social circles. I scanned my iPad around our living room so he could see all three of our dogs lying by my feet, and a couple of the cats to boot. He spoke to the dogs who looked up confused but tails wagging nonetheless. His voice changed, softened.

I tell him I’m proud of what he is doing in Washington, and I am. That living alone in a big city and interning with a Congressman is very cool, and not always easy. He smiles his indulgent Mom smile and says, “Thanks”. He shows me around his room and I say it looks awfully bare. He shakes his head, laughs and says, ”I’m hardly ever here.” I chuckle, knowing I won’t get anywhere with making his room more hospitable.

So this is my future as a parent -- skyping with our two sons, scanning our home to show them the pets they have left behind, the familiar couches and windows of their home, our home, now outgrown. I love that he wants to be in touch, but I hate that he seems lonely.

I tell myself, loneliness isn’t so bad, trying to make myself feel better. And I do know, and believe, that there is a magic to being alone. It has a way of opening us up to new possibilities, deeper contemplation, sharper self-knowledge. But I also know how empty it can feel to walk into a cheerless room, turn on the light and wonder, “What on earth am I going to do now?” Thankfully, this child of ours, this man, has largely figured it out. He runs, bikes and sees his friends and nearby relatives. He visits museums and goes to free dinners. He more than copes. My hope, however, is that he will discover the joy of discovery. The luxury of having time to read books he never thought he would. To take advantage of the nagging feeling of unease, “agita” my husband calls it, in order to find out what he needs to know, what he is as yet unsure of. It is a precious time in many ways; a drop in the bucket that can sweeten the whole. I hope he comes away from this somewhat enforced solitude with greater self-knowledge, a deeper compassion for others who live alone, a stronger curiosity for the unfamiliar. If he does, he will have grown into more of who he is. More of who he is becoming.

I know, even though I don’t necessarily like knowing it, that this boy is ready to go. After all, it’s what we trained him for . . . independence. A dear friend once asked me why my husband and I hadn’t had children yet. I answered that we didn’t really feel like we needed to have children, we were very happy just the two of us. She said, “Oh my dear, you don’t have children for yourselves, you have children for the world. You would raise good people and the world needs all the good people it can get.” So maybe this boy, this man, is ready to take his place in the world, and maybe I am ready to let him. It reminds me of the famous quote by William G. T. Shedd, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” So, wherever he goes I know I will look up at the moon and think, “God bless the somebody I’d like to see”, and He will.

Chaz WilcoxenEssays