Good Night Moon

Goodnight Moon

In the great green room…

Tonight, Carlos chose “Goodnight Moon” for his bedtime book.  We haven’t read it in a few months–I never got the sense he really liked it, but what do I know?  He likes to say “mush” and “bears” and “chairs” and “yight.”  Our copy of this board book was Vivi’s favorite for a while, too, so it is soft around the edges and broke backed.  We find the mouse on every page and we whisper good nights to the kittens, the mittens, the comb, the brush, the old lady whispering hush.  When we got to “good night stars, good night air, goodnight noises everywhere,” I choked up on something that’s been making me sad all week.  

Absence.  Emptiness.  Distance.  The space between the stars.  The empty places in the trees as the leaves begin to fall.  

Goodnight Moon has been around for seventy years.  Phones and clocks don’t look like that any longer.  Who eats mush?  When I was younger, I remember seeing that book and thinking how godawful the colors were.   And the plot!  Bleh.  Now I find such peace in that tidy room.  Margaret Wise Brown takes the fear and loneliness of darkness and going to sleep and turns them into cozy comforts.  That room’s never lonely even when it’s quiet.  

I’ve been lonely this week with G out of town.  I’ve been really proud of myself for taking care of the family single-handedly and hitting all my marks.  But I had a few conversations about grief/loss/change/sorrow this week that got old feelings bubbling up, and once the kids are in bed I have all this time and quiet on my hands.  I walked downstairs the other day to retrieve something for Vivi and passed a picture of Richard’s and my feet propped on a balcony in New Orleans.  I sobbed before I knew what was happening because that big toe doesn’t exist anywhere in the universe any longer.  Our waitress at Steak and Shake wanted to talk about leukemia when she saw Vivi’s tshirt.  I met my fundraising goal in his memory and his mother wrote me to say that it warms her heart when I do that every year.  His classmate sent in a donation.  So did people who never met him and only know him through my stories.  

When I carried Carlos to bed, he held Goodnight Moon in both hands, clutched to his chest.  After I tucked him in under his monkey quilt that my high school friend, Valaria, made for him, he seemed to be drifting off.  I took the book and put it on the table.  In the dark of his great yellow room, he wailed, “MY BOOOOOOOOOOK!”  I brought it back to him and he laid it across his chest.  

As I was washing dishes and crying for people I know who are hurting and for things that have gone away, I remembered a snippet of a song I heard 10 years ago on an Oxford American Magazine Southern Music CD:  “Goodnight moon, goodnight stars, goodnight old broke down cars.  Going away, leaving soon, goodnight darlin’, goodnight moon.”  And lo, through the magic of Google and YouTube, I got to hear the song again tonight while the dishes dripped dry.  

It’s by Will Kimbrough.  Here’s a clip of Will singing it live at the Bluebird in Nashville:

I also liked this version.  It’s tuned higher and the arrangement is spare and elegant.  It’s Jason Vincent doing a cover of Will Kimbrough’s song “Goodnight Moon”:

After listening a few times and a few times more, I felt better.  I remembered that the same moon shines on all of us, wherever we are, whenever we are.  The moon that my grandparents kissed under is the moon that lit our path when Richard and I walked along a beach in Crete.  It’s the moon G sees in Brasil, and Erica in Chile, Rhonda in Canada, Frances in Ecuador, Beth in France, Catie in Bhutan, Marian in the Netherlands, Heather up the street, Jean a mile from her, Rachel down in South Georgia, and Ginger in Ohio.  Goodnight y’all.  Goodnight all.  

10 thoughts on “Good Night Moon

  1. Holly Parker

    This is really for moms I guess but I thought you would like it – has our connection at the end. Love you, Mom

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Beth Holmes

    Oh Ashley, now I am crying and all of the silly petty annoyances of this day (our water heater is broken and we have not hot water) have gone away. I have tears in my eyes because my “Remember Sam” song is by the Dixie Chicks and has the words:

    “Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
    And I love you

    Godspeed, little man
    Sweet dreams, little man
    Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
    Sweet dreams”

    Thanks for reminding us once again what life is all about and for being so real and open.

  3. mbb452000Mary Barrett

    When Valaria children come in to say goodnight, they say together the prayer Now I lay me down to sleep. Afterward they ask for blessings for each person and give thanks for each blessing that comes to mind. It is a lovely way to end the day together. Her children are teenagers and I am blessed to be their GranMary

  4. Elizabeth Lamb

    I know what you mean about that big toe. It’s been two years now and I still have an infinite number of “big toe” moments ahead of me. Of course I’m sad. My best friend is dead. He’s never coming back. But it’s okay to cry about it.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      I’m so sorry, Elizabeth. It’s not just OK to cry about it–it’s necessary to cry about it. And you don’t have to evaluate or measure or justify your crying. When I hear people say, “It’s going to be OK,” I think, “No. It’s going to suck. You’re going to be OK.”

  5. Emily

    I just read this blog entry on my cousin’s (Rachel’s) fb page. It was so hauntingly sad, yet so beautiful. I had a good long cry about a lot of things that I guess I needed to cry about. Thank you for your words. I just can’t say enough about it; I loved every word. I have never lost someone to cancer, but I have experienced pain. A lot of what you said really resonated with me and made me think about death, life and using what time we have left to cherish who is with us – those that love us. I will continue reading. Peace and blessings for you.

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