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The Moon & the Sun
Author's note: I'm inspired by the couples that stay together after problems in late teens-early twenties until their deaths in their elder years. I think it's amazing to watch and learn about their stories; about how they made it that far. Please comment, rate & evaluate. Thanks!
It’s funny, looking back, at all of the memories we once had together. You looked so adorable in your bathing suit—the ones your mother got you for Christmas at the Cope Cabana. She forgot them, too, at her hotel in Wisconsin Dells, so she made her friend Tammy turn around and drive two hours to get them, remember? When she gave them to you, she said, “They aren’t too big, they aren’t gross, and you will wear them until they fall off when you stand up.” I think she loved those shorts more than you did, and you wore them to every time we went swimming that summer. And you loved swimming; you were a total California boy.
Do you remember where we had our first kiss? That day—the time before it—was outrageous. I just learned that my mother was dying from cancer, and you were my biology partner. We knew each other and joked around previously, but you decided it would be for my benefit that we hung out. You took me to Olive Garden in Santa Cruz for lunch, and then spent the rest of the day in San Francisco. We looked like such tourists, with our sweatshirts around our waists and snapping pictures at every corner. It’s amazing; we both had grown up in Bear Valley Spring our entire lives, and yet I had never previously visited San Francisco before.
That night, you took me out on a moonlit tour around San Francisco Bay. You bought me dinner, too. When the sun was setting, you asked me, “I feel bad for the moon. The sun is always dodging it; hiding under the earth, playing a never-ending version of hide-and-seek.” You paused, examining the sky, and then turned and looked me in the eyes. “I don’t want to be the sun with you. I really like you, Kelsey—I want to be with you.” When I smiled, you knew what my answer was and kissed me. We didn’t stop kissing until a fog horn erupted from the ship, but nonetheless, we were inseparable after that. You drove me home and my brother and dad were fighting—the first of several gigantic arguments. This was, by far the worst, ended in a bloodbath and I had to get the cops involved. With the tensions high and dry, I grabbed my eight-year-old sister Laura and we slept over at your house, remember? Your parents were at a conference in Orlando and your twins siblings—Natalie and Derek—were both serving in the military. You were so kind to me, but especially Laura. That’s when I knew you were the one for me.
Eight months later and it’s graduation time. You are so focused on UCLA—your ultimate dream college. I’m so proud of you. You nabbed a full-ride to play not just basketball, but football, too. Little do you know you’ll be one of the best athletes anyone has ever laid eyes on.
But you’re also a father. You don’t know it yet, but it’s the truth. I’m scared to death; I don’t want anybody to know who the father is, especially you. Your reputation would be down the drain. Everything you ever attempted to achieve would vanish.
When I finally tell you, in August—the first trimester is over—you are terrified and angry. I can’t stop crying. My mother died two months ago from breast cancer. After awhile, he sat me down on his lap and chuckled. “Maybe this won’t be too bad. You are attending Pepperdine University, fifteen minutes away from UCLA. We can own an apartment on your campus, and I’ll drive to mine—”
“I can’t let you do that, Noah,” I told you, but you had already convinced yourself. “My parents are paying for the extras and we can both manage jobs. We can do this, sweetheart.”
I sighed. “It isn’t just the timing and the distance. It’s the fact that if you become a pro athlete, this might not be something that looks good on your resume.”
“So we’ll keep him hush-hush. And if somebody does find out or leak it to the press, that is if people care that much about me to dig into my personal life, I’ll conduct a statement or interview about how proud I am about my child and my beautiful girlfriend.”
I couldn’t help but blush. Whenever you were around me, I’d forget to breathe. I always felt more comfortable with you by my side. Still, to this day, I remember the feeling of warmth and pride that you gave me. Those kinds of feelings just don’t fade away.
It’s February, and the day before Valentine’s—February 13th—I give birth to a baby boy. He’s flawless, for the time being, and is effortlessly adorable, just like you. My baby’s name is Cooper Noah Felix, your last name. I decided to make it yours because of how famous you’ll end up. Nobody will care about me in twenty years—I’m just his girlfriend and the mother of his son.
We officially wed on Christmas Eve on December 21st on the cruise ship where you first kissed me. Our wedding was small yet effective, being we both don’t have large families or are especially close to any. My maid of honor was Laura, and you best man was a teammate of his named Rodney, an influential senior and great guy overall. He was about to be drafted into the NFL that upcoming spring for the Ravens, and we were proud to have him in our wedding. Unfortunately, I was huge—seven months pregnant—and that’s when everyone finally realized you and I were having a baby. On every wedding card, on the very back, was the quote you said to me that glorious night.
“I feel bad for the moon. The sun is always dodging it; playing a never-ending version of hide-and-seek. I don’t want to be the sun with you. I want to be with you.” –Noah’s words to Kelsey on December 24st, 1990.
Our wedding was on December 24th, 1991, marking our one-year anniversary. Our engagement was quick—it was two weeks after I told you I was pregnant, on August 4th, 1991. I was thrilled, honestly. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone but you.
We were nineteen when we were wed, and nineteen when we became parents. Nineteen, I think, was one of the biggest years of my life.
Two years later—being juniors in college—we remain husband and wife, only with one exception: I’m pregnant, for a second time. This time, with a girl. The year is 1993 and we’re very excited. Cooper is still adorable, and his first word was a mishmash of our names: “Dadma,” which satisfied both of us. It’s Christmas again, marking our second anniversary of marriage, and I’m five months pregnant. I’m officially majoring in elementary education because I’ve realized how much I love children! You have always majored in coaching with a minor in sports science. You have been getting calls left and right by professional teams—for both basketball and football, and you can’t decide. You are probably better at football, but at times, like basketball more. You, too, like children, and that’s why you aspire to be a coach when you retire from professional teams. That’s another reason why we’re “getting busy” so young: we knew, all along, that you were going to be a star in the media’s eye, and with that being said, we wanted to settle down and have a family before it’s too late.
April 13th and I give birth to our second child, a girl, named Melody Ruth. Ruth was my mother’s name, and when I was giving birth, you would sing to me to comfort the whole delivery process. I came up with the name on the spot, dismissing all other select few names we had come up with previously, and you enjoyed it, too.
In June of that year, we end our junior years at college and are excited for summer. We spent it at the beach as much as possible and work quite a bit. I have a part-time job and you manage two full-time. Maybe because I’m taking on the role of mothering at the age of twenty-one, I suppose, or we have enough money for the average post-college student. We’ve always been ahead of our game.
It’s been a year now—the date is June 2nd, 1994. Cooper is four years old and Melody is two years old. I graduated with honors from Pepperdine and you, of course, get honored into the draft. You’ve decided to play football, with my constant support and honest consideration. I know my teaching career is quite far off because I promise to travel with the team and their wives—even though I will be by far the youngest wife there—and the kids, being they are so young still, will travel with me. I am twenty-four years old, and so are you.
Four years has gone by now and you’re a huge star. You’re often traveling alone with your teammates; plenty of them have wives, but I cannot commit anymore to the long bus rides and crazy airplane trips. We have four children now. You love them dearly but cannot always be there for them.
Cooper is nine years old now and plays basketball very well. You teach him whenever you’re home. Melody is seven years old and thinks she’s a ballerina. She’s an amazing pianist and singer; you always call her “Little Miss Cristina,” in reference to Christina Aguilera. Next comes Bradley, who we call Brad, who is an hilarious six-year-old ball of sunshine. He doesn’t go a day without smiling or making a joke, even at such a young age. And finally, there’s Grace, or Gracie as you always call her. She’s four years old and has medical complications all her life. She was born deaf, so we all learned the valuable knowledge of sign language. While I teach sixth grade, I intervine some sign language into my teachings. I think everyone benefits from it. Also, Gracie suffers from diabetes and had a faulty heart at the age of two. She received a heart transplant from an anonymous donor after you made the news go viral, with your media-crazed life and all. Through thick and thin, our Gracie has been a trooper through it all.
You are twenty-eight as well as I. It’s been four years since you’ve signed with the 49ers and you love it—football has always been your passion and always will—but sometimes, I miss you, and you miss me. We often write love notes to each other whenever you’re away for spring training, a football weekend or something “work-related.” I know I can always trust you, and you can always trust me. I’ve been teaching at Half Moon Bay Middle School for three years now and love it. They don’t seem to even care about my celebrity status—they’ve hardly ever pressed me about my relationship to a professional football player. They always comment on my personality and work habits, saying that’s all that matters, and I’m often grateful for that. But sometimes, it gets lonely, as if I can’t relate to anybody. That’s where I write, in my spare time between mother, housewife and teacher.
I created my first book, an autobiography, when I was thirty years old titled Behind the Horizon Line. The title got so many compliments it was outrageous. But the part that hit home for many was the quote I pulled from you, way back in the first day we met. I’ve used that quote so many places—in my book, in our wedding cards, printed on a paper framed on our bedroom wall—I assume you might be slightly annoyed. But it’s all good; I love you.
Back to my bio, it hit record sales in the biography department and won a National Merit Award for its “originality, open-mindedness and unique flavor,” along with seventeen other authentic awards. You were there for all of the ceremonies, even when you were the best man at two weddings and missed your best friend’s bachelor parties. I felt so loved! When I was given all of the gifts and the flowers and the awards and the praise, you were right there, holding Gracie’s hand and the other children sitting next to you, all of you giggling and tearing up with appreciation. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a bigger sense of gratitude since I met you.
Two years later Oprah Winfrey—no joke!—wants me on her show. I was honestly astounded. Had she ever had kids as young as thirty-two years old on that show? I mean, really? It was one of my favorite moments—though all behind you, of course.
Anyway, one of her first major questions was when the audience had finally settled in was, “So that quote your husband said to you—the one about the sun, the moon, etc.—is that true, or your ingenuity pouring out?”
The crowd laughed, of course, and I chuckled too, but only because I remembered that night like it was yesterday. I replied, “I promise, cross my heart, pinky swear, whatever you want me to do. My husband, Noah, said that to me when we were nineteen years old, no joke.”
Oprah shook her head, the audience whistling and tearing up and clapping. “How many women in here wish their man said that? And here’s the best part, folks: he wasn’t just talking. He stood by her through pregnancy, a full-scholarship, basketball and football practices, and separate colleges. And guess what? Through four pregnancies, a book tour, being a professional football player for the 49ers, and one of the best in history, and a teaching job, this couple has stuck together like glue since they were nineteen years old. How many years have you been married now?”
“It’ll be thirteen years this Christmas Eve.” The crowd ooed romantically. That’s when you stood up in the stands and shouted, “It’s easier than you think when you’re married to a flawless woman.”
Oprah invited him up after replying with, “You aren’t deciding to play hide-and-seek with her, now, are you?”
You climbed up onto the stage, fresh out of football practice and neatly shaven, and held my hand as we talked with Oprah. Because it was mainly my interview, she kept the facts primarily on me, but you got asked a lot of the questions. You always came out with hilarious responses that knocked me off my feet to the point where Oprah commented by saying, “Are you laughing because you have to, or laughing because you honestly think he’s hilarious?”
“My husband is the funniest guy I know,” I said in full honesty, and the crowd went wild.
“Now that you’re the ‘ideal’ celebrity couple,” Oprah said, “An author married to an NFL player, what is the scandal you’re going to be pulling? Perhaps another child, another book, a new movie coming out…?”
I smiled politely. “Oh, no, nothing for now. We like to keep the ‘celebrity’ status as low-key as possible, especially for our children.”
“Right, you have four kids now! How old are they?”
“Cooper is thirteen; Melody eleven; Brad ten and Gracie eight.”
Oprah’s face almost went pale, and I grabbed onto your hand for support. Gracie was always a sensitive subject, wherever we went, and I hated how she could never fully understand that. She wasn’t different; a perfectly capable human being. It’s just that abnormalities are always so judged, so discriminated against, that it’s often hard to live with.
“How is Grace doing? Tell the folks at home all about her and her condition, and how you and Noah are acting to raise awareness.”
“Well, Gracie suffers from multiple conditions,” you started. “She’s a type-one diabetic and had a heart transplant when she was two years old from an anonymous donor, which we are unvaryingly grateful for. Gracie is also completely deaf, and with that disposition, the family all knows how to fluently communicate in sign language. Being a teacher, Kelsey often incorporates sign language in her English classes just to mix the sixth graders up, but it also is very valuable knowledge. I think it’s something everyone should learn, either as a second language or at least the basic hand gestures. With the help with my coach and teammates, the 49ers are adding onto the University of California San Francisco Benoiff Children’s Hospital a deaf wing called the Gracie K. Felix Department for the Deaf. It’ll be up and running as of July, and we’re ecstatic about it.” You smiled to yourself and paused. “My teenager, Cooper, always says with a completely straight face he’s going to work there someday, and my gosh, I sure hope he does, and others follow. The deaf aren’t scary and they aren’t mentally ill. They are perfectly normal people who see three times better as normal human beings. So next time you look strangely at a deaf person, you’re offending them to the extreme.” You then signed the words “peace,” “hope” and “love” before walking out. You got a standing ovation.
Oprah asked a final question to me, as you were walking out. “What has influenced you the most for your writing? I read your autobiography several times and have had analytical book clubs on it. But, I’m not sure I can figure out your muse.”
I smiled to myself, thinking mostly on you, but than I got to thinking. It wasn’t you, it was the memories we had experienced. That’s when I knew my answer.
“Every person’s memories and experiences shape them to who they are today. I think that is my case, too, and it primarily revolves around happy memories—like being with, marrying and having children with Noah—but also sad ones, like when my mother passed away. The experiences you go through, good or bad, significantly impact your mental portion of you, and it changes a person. I can honestly say that I’ve been changed by the people I’ve met and the memories we share.”
Oprah held my hand, then, and squeezed it. She had tears running down her face. I, myself, was quite frazzled by the words that just came out of my mouth. You were watching me from backstage, waiting to greet me. The kids would make us watch it together as a family over and over, and eventually, Gracie learned her first word.
When we were thirty-five years old—Cooper, 16; Melody, 14; Brad, 13; and Gracie, 11—you were in a serious car accident. A drunk driver hit you head-on when in the night while you were driving home from a 49ers get together. You had been considering retiring, by that point; you loved football but didn’t want to become a Brett Favre. You were in a coma for seven weeks, and when you woke up, you experienced cardiac arrest.
You were put on life support long enough for your relatives to say goodbye to you, and for the kids to read to you. They’d each take turns reading their favorite children’s books that you read to them. Gracie signed hers passionately. She understood, though so little, that you were dying. I would never understand how she could survive with little scars from your death, even with little outlets for venting.
Eight days later, after they extracted your organs—you were always a proud donor—you were put to rest, and your life ended, then and there.
But our lives continued. The ongoing support we got from the world was insane. Here we were, just a little family in a little town, but we got huge recognition. The 49ers made a new investment: the Noah E. Felix Stadium, where Half Moon Bay High School would now play football, soccer, and wrestling under the same dome. It was massive, gigantic, really, compared to the town of 12,500.
The 49ers had spring training there, and they also got to work with the high school football kids. Dear Cooper was one of them.
Melody became famous at the age of fourteen, and her father’s nickname for her, “Little Miss Christina,” became popular as well. She got her own recording contract and began selling albums—though still had a curfew, school and cheerleading practice.
She sang the national anthem in the Noah E. Felix Stadium, where a picture of him hung on the wall and, underneath his picture, was the quote he said to me so long ago.
“I feel bad for the moon. The sun is always dodging it; playing a never-ending version of hide-and-seek. I don’t want to be the sun with you. I want to be with you.”
When Melody finished, I was bawling, holding Gracie’s hand and watching Brad feel so happy by my side.
EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER . . .
Cooper is now thirty-four years old and a medical researcher / child cancer specialist in the Gracie K. Felix Department for the Deaf. I’ve never been prouder of him in my life. He lives in a grand home in downtown San Francisco and is married with a woman named Kira. They also have three kids: Adam, 5; Josie, 3; and Kendra, 1. Kira is a journalist for the San Francisco Times and has interviewed me several times about my life with you and my book.
Melody is thirty-three years old and has officially “retired” from being a professional singer/songwriter. She is married to—you’d never guess it!—Adam Frost, a real-life actor! They live in Sacramento, where they often tour around the world, with his acting talents and Melody’s gorgeous voice. They have two children; Wyatt Noah Felix-Frost, who is three; and Felicity Elisabeth Felix-Frost, who is five. Together, the family has been on several vacations, both inside the country and out. Their most recent was when Adam was shooting a movie in Ireland, so they got to visit the ancient castles and walk around there. There were beautiful pictures. When she got married, she couldn’t stop crying before it and after it. I’m sure you can guess why! She said, “My dad isn’t here. I can’t get married! I’m eloping! I can’t do this without my dad. I’m not Little Miss Christina without him. I’m just Melody—the girl who will never get married.”
Eventually, she had Cooper walk her down.
Next comes Bradley, who is now thirty-one. He’s extremely smart and talented poetically, and with those two combined traits makes him extremely successful. He’s been living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, since he was eighteen years old on a writing scholarship, actually. He played basketball all through college—just like Cooper did, and you, of course—at Harvard, an Ivy League school! If you had lived with us up until now, you wouldn’t be so surprised, but you haven’t, and the fact is is that Bradley is a genius. He graduated with his doctorate a year ago and is now a surgeon at the John Hopkins Hospital (we call him Dr. Felix) in Baltimore, Maryland, where he met his fiancée, Hope, who works at the OBG/YN clinic delivering babies and accompanying the level-two babies. They are very excited to get married in two months!
And lastly, there’s Gracie, who is all grown up now, twenty-nine years old. It was sad to be an empty nester without you. The pain I felt when I left Gracie’s dorm room was almost unbearable. It was like a butter knife was stabbing deep into an already opened wound all the way home. And from Half Moon Bay all the way up to Seattle—that’s a fourteen hour drive—it definitely hurt when I was back home. But that is beside the point. Gracie is twenty-nine years old and attended the Art Institute of Seattle. That’s where she learned how to vent—painting, sculpture, dancing and writing were all major sources of outlets—and she loved it. She taught her teachers, friends and classmates how to speak sign language and she also learned how to read lips and pronounce words herself. That’s also where she met her boyfriend, Tray, who is a drummer in a country band. Gracie always had some weird fascination with country music. Maybe it was the beat of the instruments. Anyway, they always attend concerts together and speak in sign language, which he has been previously taught because he has two deaf twin brothers. They’ve been dating since they were freshmen in college, at the age of nineteen—so ten years—and he already asked for my blessing (because you aren’t alive). They live together (and though he doesn’t know it yet, she is two months pregnant) and he plans on “popping the question” in four days, their anniversary. It’s so exciting! Gracie is a teacher at the Northwest School for Hearing-Impaired Children in Seattle as well as a professional artist; and Tray’s band went viral—extravagently helped by Melody’s public broadcasting and encouragement—and play gigs all around the world, which is partly the cause of their prolonged wedding. The other problem is that Melody just got over a nasty divorce, where she had to file for a restraining order because her husband is a cheating alcoholic and abused her as well as their three-year-old son, Brandt. (So actually, Gracie and Tray haven’t been married for ten years. In actuality, probably more like seven. Her ex-husband, Jason, seemed like the right man; they had a huge wedding and the works. Gracie got pregnant right away and had Brandt, but right after, Jason became extremely abusive and Tray and Melody seemed to pick up where they left off, no harm done. They had broken up previously because they mutually wanted to experience something new; Tray had suggested the idea first, and Melody tried her hardest to move on, but obviously didn’t chose correctly, and now they’re obviously meant to be.)
So yes. The family is quite spread out—varying from Sacramento to San Francisco to Seattle to Boston—but we always get together for major birthdays (like yours), Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Independence Day. It’s really important that we stay in touch, ever since you left us on the earth. That day will never be erased from my memory. I know that you’re gone physically forever, but the experiences we’ve had and the memories I will cherish always. You will never be away from my heart.
I am fifty-three years old now. Our romance—it seemed like such a simple, clichéd, stereotypical high school relationship—cascaded into a beautiful, remarkably complex dream come true that would last a lifetime. Neither of us understood that, even back then, when we had convinced ourselves we were in legitimate love.
Do you remember the quote I’ve always told everyone about? The one tacked on the Noah E. Felix Stadium—which is still running here in Half Moon Bay in your honor—, the one that I’ve hung in our bedroom since we moved to HMB, and the one you said to me when we were nineteen years old. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about now. Anyway, I’ve thought more and more about it in my “over-the-hill years.” I am now being considered a senior citizen—I can apply for Medicare!—and it hurts, because I realize more and more that I’m experiencing these painful moments without you. But my emotional traumas are besides the point.
Your quote—I’ll tell it to you in case you remembered:
“I feel bad for the moon. The sun is always dodging it; hiding under the earth, playing a never-ending version of hide-and-seek. I don’t want to be the sun with you. I really like you, Kelsey—I want to be with you.”
—means so much more to me now. I think it’s got to do with being apart from you permanently, at least in this lifetime. The meaning is so much more than it was in my nineteen-year-old ears. We weren’t chasing each other before; we were in the same universe, on the same wavelength, and full of communication. Now that we’re split apart, we’re on different boundaries, different galaxies. We have become two, instead of one. I still love you, but I have become the moon, the thing you had feared becoming so long ago, and you are now the sun. I have started to chase after you; I’m always attempting to put together the shattered pieces of your soul you had left for me to organize. You’ve tried to get my mind off the big picture as you escape my grasp, over-and-over.
We have been playing a never-ending version of hide-and-seek.
I know that doesn’t mean much to you, now that you’re forever gone, but I think, maybe, you already knew. You were waiting for me to finish sorting through your memories and lost thoughts and patiently waited until I came up with my theory. This is my theory, and I’m explaining it to you now.
You didn’t know you were going to die—nobody does—but once you did, you were given a gift. You’ve created a puzzle for me to figure out, and now that I have, you’ve awarded me with the knowledge I need to move on.
I don’t want to move on, and you probably know that. In fact, you of all people should know. You’ve been my guardian angel for eighteen years now; I’m sure you’ve calculated a lot more data about me than you had ever in your life. But, again, that’s besides the point.
This game of cat and mouse, hide and seek, whatever you call it, is a warning bell for me. I am fifty-three years old…and single. I’m an empty nester, I’m a successful teacher, and I’m considered a senior citizen. But I still don’t want to move on from my one true love.
But your quote eggs me on. “Kelsey—I want to be with you.” The pain will never end in my heart. I can still hear you say the words in your baritone voice; I can still see your adorable red lips moving as you talk. That moment was the most memorable moment in my life, and I will never forget it, nor will I ever forget you.
So now why do I suddenly want to move on?
Maybe you’re right. Indirectly, I’m listening to your thoughts, or what I think I would have thought if I was the one in a serious accident and you were in my position now.
Alright, I’m done. I’m moving on. Though your life will remain existent as long as my heart beats, I can’t go on alone. I will see you later, I promise, dear Noah.
I never replied to you that night, and I’ve regretted it ever since. So, here’s my response:
Noah—I want to be with you, too.
Love forever & always,