When the moon smiles

Every evening while I am away, each of us will look up at the moon and smile

THE MOON rises over Rosh Ha’ayin.  (photo credit: MILA AVIV/FLASH90)
THE MOON rises over Rosh Ha’ayin.
(photo credit: MILA AVIV/FLASH90)
Channah loved her grandfather very much. At the end of his last visit, Channah hung on to his shirt and was not willing to let go. She had too many questions and too many fears to let her Saba go back to where he lived, so far away. 
She said, “Saba, how can people live on the other side of the world? Don’t you fall into the sky? And what did you mean that if I would dig really deep that I would find you there?”
Saba felt the fear that was beneath the questions. He took Channah’s hands, looked straight into her beautiful eyes and said, “I think I have a solution. Why don’t we both think of something in the sky that we can look at together and see the exact same thing. Now what could that be?”
“How about the clouds?” gasped Channah. “We all see the clouds!”
“That is true,” said Saba, “but the wind changes the shape of the clouds and therefore we don’t see the same clouds.”
“How about the sun?” Channah suggested excitedly. “We both see the same sun.”
“That would be a good idea,” said Saba, “but we cannot really look at the sun, it would blind us.”
“So, I give up,” Channah said.
“Do not give up my darling. Why don’t you think of something that we may sometimes see in the daytime, but only glows at night?”
“The moon!” Channah yelled. “We can both look at the moon!'
“Right you are,” said Saba. “The moon is a magical thing. It has a face and it even knows how to smile! This is what we will do. Every evening while I am away, each of us will look up at the moon and smile, and when we see it smiling back then we will know that the other one is okay.”
Channah was excited for this new type of connection with her Saba. The first night after her Saba left she waited by the windowsill. Slowly but surely the moon started to rise. It was an amazing glowing ball and it really did have a face! Channah was smiling happily and she saw the moon smile back at her. She was sure that it was because her Saba on the other side of the world was smiling too. She thought it was reflecting his smile. Night after night Channah smiled at the moon and was relieved to know that Saba was alright, since the moon always seemed to smile back at her.
After a few days Channah started getting anxious because it seemed that the moon was falling and breaking piece by piece. Channah prayed for it to stop but it did not, and the moon kept vanishing. Channah thought that maybe something was wrong with her Saba, so she called him quickly on the phone.
“All is fine,” her Saba said. “The moon has a cycle. Every month the moon starts off very small and slowly grows into a beautiful face, but then it starts getting smaller and smaller, as if it was hiding its face from us, until it almost disappears. Don’t fear my dear, for it always starts growing again. Keep looking up and always keep smiling, Channah, even when it seems pointless.” 
ONE DAY Channah’s parents called her into their room. 
“Channah, we must tell you something and it is very sad news. Saba passed away and went up to the sky.”
“But he said that nobody falls into the sky on the other side of the world,” cried Channah!
“That is true,” her parents explained. “Saba didn’t fall into the sky but rather went up to the sky and into the heavens.”
Once Channah understood what that meant, and that she would never see her Saba again she became very sad. When she looked up to the sky that night there was no moon, and it was like a black hole in the dark sky. It seemed just like the black hole she felt in her heart.
That whole month Channah kept looking up at the moon, but the moon did not smile back at her like it did when Saba used to smile at it. The moon was frowning or at most just staring back at her with a plain stare. Even when the moon’s face was full, all it had was just a big frown. At the end of the month Channah decided she would not look at the moon anymore, for it filled her with such sadness. That night she went to bed without taking even a small glimpse of the moon, and as she closed her eyes tears ran down her cheeks. 
The following morning, she received a letter from her Saba! It was a letter he had written to her a few days before he went up to the sky. Her mother said there was a secret Saba wanted to tell her. On one side of the letter her Saba drew a beautiful moon with a magnificent smile, and on the other side he wrote:
“Channah my darling, the moon wasn’t smiling at you because I was smiling, it was smiling back at you because you were smiling. Keep looking up and keep smiling and remember – it will always grow again.”
That night Channah sat by her windowsill, opened the window, and let the cool breeze blow through her hair. She looked up into the sky and smiled at the moon. Not much changed, but the black hole in the sky was filled with a little more glowing light.
Night after night she looked up and smiled. The moon’s face was growing, but she still did not know what kind of face it was making – a sad one or a happy one.
Then it happened, one cloudless night, Channah looked up at the sky. She knew her Saba was looking down at her and that filled her with happiness. It was as if it was the first time that she ever stared at the moon. 
She smiled her lovely smile and saw a beautiful face smiling right back at her.  
The writer is a teacher in Ra’anana and a certified tour guide.