“The Man in the Moon and Me,” column for Sept. 16, 2014

What will you do with your one sweet life? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

I do. I’ve been asking it for as long as I can remember.

Once, when I was small, and the world was big, my mother forgot to call me in for supper. So I climbed up in a tree, held on tight, and watched the moon rise over the mountain.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

It was big and round and pearly white, a Carolina moon, some would say. When I tried to touch it, I nearly fell out of the tree. But the moon reached down with a long arm of light and rested a shimmering hand on my head. I could feel it down deep in my toes. I studied its face _ its shadowy eyes, sunken nose, bow-shaped mouth.

Then I heard it say this: “What are you going to do about it?”

“What?” I said. “What am I going to do about WHAT?”

The moon didn’t answer. An hour later, when my mother finally called me in, I didn’t tell her about the moon’s question. She worried enough as it was.

I grew up asking myself that question, even when I couldn’t see the moon, on the darkest nights and brightest days of my life. And I never had an answer.

First, I asked it for my mother. What would I do if she never called me in? If she ran off and didn’t come back? If she lost her job and we couldn’t eat?

Sooner or later, she always called me in. She never ran off. And job or not, we always ate.

We did just fine.

When my brother was born blind, I asked the moon’s question for him. What would he do if he couldn’t see? How could I take care of him? Would he ever manage on his own?

Joe learned to walk when he was 5, pushing a tricycle. He learned to read Braille at the school for the blind. He learned to do for himself all the things no one else could do for him.

He did just fine.

In high school, I asked the moon’s question for myself. My family had no money. What would I do if I couldn’t go to college? Would I work in a mill like my parents? Wait tables for tips? Bag groceries at the A&P?

Those were respectable jobs, but I wanted to write stories. Would I ever get to see the far side of the mountain, where the moon went to bed in a place called California? Would I ever have a family of my own?

Much to my surprise, I won a scholarship to college; moved to California; married a basketball coach; got a job writing stories for a newspaper; and raised a family, yes, of my own.

We did just fine.

When my husband was told he had terminal cancer, I asked the moon’s question for us all. How would he face the days ahead? Could our children survive the pain of such a loss? How would we ever manage without him?

He lived his last days with dignity and grace. Our children grew up to honor his memory. We mourned his loss, missed him terribly, and in time, we moved on with our lives.

We did just fine.

When I remarried and moved to Las Vegas, I asked the moon’s question again. Could my new husband and I build a life together far from our families and friends? Would our kids be OK without us? Could we ever feel at home in the desert as we had on the coast of California?

The answers to all those questions have been “yes.” We have done just fine.

Last night the moon shone down upon the desert _ on the jackrabbits in their holes and the coyotes in their dens and me in my backyard. And once again, it whispered in my ear: “What are you going to do about it?”

I laughed.

I have no idea,” I said. “I don’t even know what ‘it’ is. I just want to be here in this moment, enjoy it while I can, and trust tomorrow to take care of itself. Is that OK with you?”

And there, for the first time, I saw it with my own eyes.

The moon fell silent and grinned.


  1. Thank you, Sharon, for yet another inspiring column. Yes, you are doing just fine, and we, the readers, are the beneficiaries of your gift of writing, of sharing you life with us.

    As someone I know and admire always signs off, grace and peace.



  2. You did it extremely fine again talking with moon since you were a little girl and now nana . What a beautiful column combining all stories in one post . Wish you enough keeping your column full of life .

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