A moon, new beginnings and loss

Today, I am thinking about my beautiful friend, Jenny Green, who died in November 2015. I wrote about the supermoon, an odd, rare phenomenon that helped me observe Jenny’s death and work towards accepting it. This piece was originally published by Urban Walkabout, which unfortunately went into voluntary administration so the piece is no longer available online. You can read the original piece below.

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The Supermoon, Grief and a Turbulent Month

According to NASA, our planet will see “the closest full moon to date in the 21st century” on November 14. I have experienced the uneasy combination of terror and excitement in the lead up to this supermoon. It will be one year since my friend, Jenny Green, died. Since I haven’t wanted to deal with my grief, I have focused on the moon.

Astronomers have advised the public where to gather in order to observe the supermoon. Whether people are planning to capture it using expensive tripods or a phone camera, there are a few ideal vantage points. These include east-facing beaches, mountains, tall buildings and hills.

Jenny loved beaches. Of all the beaches in the world, she was insistent that the best is Coogee Beach in Sydney. She scoffed if you dared to make the argument in favour of Bondi Beach, Nielsen Park or, God forbid, any Melbourne beach. Her dream was to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major at her favourite place, which was Coogee Beach at sunset, and “swoon with the sheer ridiculous beauty of it all.”

When I found out that the supermoon would coincide with the anniversary of her death, I laughed. It’s always easier to laugh, to live in denial, and to get angry, than to cry. I suppose that’s why in Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief, anger and bargaining occur before depression. I laughed because Jenny would have appreciated the symbolism and metaphor so much. She would have quoted poems and songs, without needing to Google the lyrics, and effortlessly braided them together into an astounding post, shocking her Facebook followers with the obscenities and the stark beauty of her words.

Brisbane poet and writer Kathleen McLeod also connects the super moon to our shared grief over Jenny. As she wrote on her blog, “The supermoon is tonight and here you are, still illuminating all of us. Life is beautiful and terrifying and weird.”

The moon features in so many religious and spiritual customs. It is tied to fertility, femininity, mysticism and new beginnings. Leonard Cohen, who died a week ago on 7th November, sang about the moon, as did Jeff Buckley and numerous other incredible poet song-writers.

This morning, a friend told me Cohen died earlier than the date his death was announced in the media. He was buried before Trump became President Elect, which means that he left the world before it changed so drastically.

This brought me a deep sense of calm, which I don’t completely understand. Social media has encouraged society to analyse everything through a microlens, but grief interferes with one’s ability to participate in these obsessive new rituals. Instead, sometimes all that a mourner can do is focus on loss, and death, and cycles of life; we can only navigate the personal, with little space for the political.

Then again, Jenny taught me that there was always room for both. It feels so fitting that this date I have been dreading coincides with the supermoon. This unusual natural phenomenon lets me pause and contemplate nature and life. It interrupts the regular media schedule of fear, with scientific facts, natural beauty and photography tips.

As people gather at sunset tonight, whether they’re picnicking on a hill, or at the beach listening to classical music, drinking gin, and skinny dipping, which would have been Jenny’s choice, I hope the moon brings a sense of peace and calmness. Recent events in the world have left so many distressed, disoriented and fearful. When we peer up at the sky tonight and see the moon looking bigger and brighter than it has since 1948, and won’t again until 2034, I hope we can appreciate the beauty of the natural world. I hope that for a brief moment we can let go of everything – even the science and the facts – and just let it be magic when we need it the most.