Reader Essay: The Secret Mission To The Moon


There is this belief that, as adults, we have to see the world through more serious eyes than when we were kids. But must we lose the little joy or happiness certain things can bring us just by changing our perspective? Aren’t we allowed to find silver linings that will help us cope with the severity of what surrounds us in our adult lives? 

Recently, we lost our beloved dog, Kia, to cancer, and while it has been very difficult on my husband and me, I had to think of a way to explain to my kid that his dog would not be around anymore. If, by the time he came back from school he didn’t see Kia to say hi, what could we ever say to explain her absence?

“We decided that giving him something to wonder and be excited about would be a better way to deal with the reality.”

I couldn’t help but look at this situation through my kid’s eyes. He loves a good story, he loves rocket ships, he loves the moon, he counts the stars in the sky and he adores Kia. My imagination and creativity’s cogwheels started turning with the stories I could create and he would enjoy. Many parents suggest you should tell your kids the truth, so that would be talking to a three-year-old about death and hoping he will understand the concept. Forgive me if I have no mind to be able to even process the conversation in which I explain what death is to a toddler. We decided that giving him something to wonder and be excited about would be a better way to deal with the reality.

So, our dog went to the moon on a rocket ship on a secret mission. 

What that statement has done in my kid’s imagination has created space for joy. He looks at the sky and tries to find the rocket, he sometimes finds it, and we cheer on. Other times he tells us that the WTC building is the rocket ship that Kia is going to drive and he starts the countdown for lift off. He wonders about what she is doing on the moon (mainly peeing where she shouldn’t), but he wants to send her things in a box through the mail because she might be missing her favorite toy or her blanket. He would tell us about all the things Kia is doing in space and that she can see the stars, just like he can. Every time he talks about her, there’s a smile on his face, a spark in his eyes as he goes into another lift off countdown, and my heart feels lighter.

“What is life without some wonder?”

I keep wondering why I never did something like this when my grandparents passed away a couple of years ago. I don’t have this image of them playing cards or putting makeup on. It’s only the knowledge that they are gone. Even if I was raised Catholic and I’m supposed to believe they’re in heaven, and in theory, finally having the time of their lives, I have no fantasies or joyful images about what they might be doing today. Perhaps because I never allowed myself to wonder, or maybe, I have been too caught up with life and grief that I didn’t open the space in my life to stop reality for a little while. Life must go on.

I wonder if the reason why we don’t create these stories for ourselves might have to do with the process of growing up. We are told that we need to stop fantasizing and be more realistic. To take life more seriously. But what is life without some wonder? I believe in discovering what brings you joy, for without it, you just fall into a gray life. And to be honest, a gray life is something I don’t want to go back to. 

“I know the importance of being able to cope with emotional pain without transmitting it to my family.”

I’m no psychologist, I’m no doctor, but I am human and I am a mother. I know the importance of being able to cope with emotional pain without transmitting it to my family. I’m not saying I ignore it, I’m just saying I have to deal with it in a way that I can keep bringing joy and happiness to my little ones; and if by doing so I bring joy to myself, then even better. We do what we have to do, what is best for us, and what works for us and our families. 

So why aren’t we creating more wonder and joy in our lives as we navigate pain? It’s not about losing all sense of reality or falling in denial, but about being able to cope with the pain. It doesn’t take an author or a creative writer to come up with a story that will bring a smile to our face and a moment of happiness. I know my dog died, I held her paw as she took her last breath, but thinking about her being dressed up in an astronaut suit makes me smile. And I’d rather smile.

“Every time I see the moon, I find myself imagining my dog happily napping on its surface.”

So yes, every time I look at the sky, I look for a rocket ship. Every time I see the moon, I find myself imagining my dog happily napping on its surface. Every time I have to explain to my kid why our dog is not with us, my imagination runs wild with all these stories about what she is doing in the secret mission on the moon. 

As Albus Dumbledore said, happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.


Maria T. D’hyver was born and raised in Mexico City and now lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. She studied design but has been a high school English and Literature teacher for the past 10 years and has a passion for reading and writing.