In 1996, my youngest son Mark Joseph (Joe) was in kindergarten. I spent many hours volunteering at the two schools my four children attended. One of my volunteer activities was to help serve pizza at lunch one Friday a month at Joe’s school. Pizza day was where I began to cement my friendship with Jan and where I met her sister-in-law, Joanne. Both Jan and Joanne had sons in the same class as Joe. Joanne also had a son in the fourth grade and a daughter in first.
The day I met Joanne, she was excited about having ordered new furniture and a carpet for her living room. Then she found a lump in her abdomen, followed by a positive biopsy. We were serving pizza together again right before her scheduled surgery to remove the cancer. I asked her about her living room furniture. It had been scheduled to be delivered the day she got her biopsy back. She cancelled the delivery. Her husband called them back and had them deliver it.
In the early hours of the morning last night, a rash I acquired in Hilton Head (likely due to the heavy duty sunscreen I was generously applying to every exposed square inch of my body) was itching and keeping me awake. I got up to get some antihistamine from the kitchen. As I walked through hall beside our great room, the upper windows glowed from a soft light in the night sky. In the kitchen, a rectangle of light coming from the outside glass door, stretched across the floor. It beckoned me to come and see. The moon was full and bright in the sky illuminating my yard, and a rectangular patch of my kitchen floor.
That’s a harvest moon, I thought. And memories of that September in 1996 came flooding back, along with my friend Jan’s words, “I’ll always remember Joanne when there’s a harvest moon.”
Here are two journal entries I wrote in the spring of 1996, when Joanne was first diagnosed with the liver cancer. She died in the fall. When my friend Jan left the hospital after her death, she saw the harvest moon in the sky.
|May 2, 1996
You’ve heard the forecast.
Sometimes the fear is worse than the storm.
So you prepare yourself as best you can.
But do you know that the storm will pass,
|May 28, 1996
I know a woman who is dying.
Will she hear the birds more clearly?
All the women I know are dying.
“The Harvest Moon is the full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox and is bright enough to allow finishing all the harvest chores.”
2011 Fall equinox will be September 23rd. The Old Farmer’s Almanac