The sun, the moon and the stars

















Yesterday on the drive home from work I was thinking about writing a book. The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, I thought.

The stars were an image I used in a story I wrote about Ben's birth.

When I was pregnant with him he woke me with kicks at about 4 a.m. each morning.

It was dark outside and I would walk to the window and look up at the blinking stars and wonder who he was and where he came from.

The stars represented the mystery and majesty of my son and my longing for him.

Later they tracked our drive to the hospital on the cold, clear night Ben was born.

There was a light snowfall, and the snowflakes twinkled, seemingly suspended in the golden street lights.

Less than 24 hours later we walked back out of the hospital, without our baby boy, hollow.

The stars that had guided us were hidden. The diamonds of snow floating in the sky had turned to dirty brown slush under our boots.

The sun and the moon represent my Dad, who died three years ago at age 88. A true British gentleman who grew up in a time of black top hats and horse-drawn carriages, he never lost his sense of wonder at the natural world.

Whenever I feel the warmth of a brilliant sun or see a full, low-hanging moon, I believe it's my Dad, giving me front-row seats to the beauty that still exists in the world.

I went to our local book shop last night. I wanted to get a book I saw reviewed last weekend in the New York Times—called The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison. It's about a stay-at-home dad who loses his children in a freak accident and becomes a caregiver, working with a teenage boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

But before I found that book, I spotted an author I'd read before: Junot Diaz. He won the Pulitzer in 2008 for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the table was a new collection of his short stories called This Is How You Lose Her.

I opened it up and my eyes fell on the first chapter: The Sun, The Moon, The Stars.

My thoughts had appeared in black type on the page!

And then I found my book by Evison, and read this excerpt on the inside:

Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you've ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you've ever hatched, every conceit or endeavour you've ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant. Soon or later it will happen. So prepare yourself. Be ready not to be ready. Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust. Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact: nothing is indestructible.

Which I thought was a perfect description of how it feels to learn your child is broken in a way that threatens to keep him on the margins of life.