There’s fewer things better than going from “When will we ever…” to “We finally get to…” when it comes to life after loss. Some of these are huge, from getting matched for an adoption, to getting pregnant again, to parent a living child. Most others, however, are the small day-to-day, sometimes mundane activities that most wouldn’t think twice about, changing dirty diapers and getting up in the middle of the night, to seeing that first smile and enjoying each milestone along the way. Halloween falls into the latter category.
Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Outside of dressing up as the “Erin Beanie Baby” during that craze, I struggle to think of creative costumes, and I hate anything scary or being scared. That said, I always thought that when I had children, it’d turn into some kind of idyllic event. Going through so many losses did not change my opinion. In fact, as I’ve written before, it sullied my mind even further about this holiday.
Bad Planning for a Planner
Aaron and I may not have helped our cause. Just weeks after losing Sarah and Benjamin, we thought it’d be a good idea to walk through our Chicago neighborhood and watch the kiddos trick-or-treating. We lived in a family-filled neighborhood that lined a huge boulevard of massive old houses and apartment buildings. This particular Halloween was unseasonably warm, so the boulevard was packed. Around the corner from us was “Crazy Halloween House,” a gigantic old-school mansion that looked like Pinterest on crack. The owners of “CHH” were known for dressing up and giving out full-sized candy bars, so the line to climb the spooky stairs was often down the block. We walked along, watching parents alongside their squealing or screaming kids, and were filled with envy and sadness. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all.
A Trick Turning into a Treat
The first Halloween after C was born shifted my mindset from dread to anticipation. We turned thoughts to what crazy costume we could put this unsuspecting five month old in. After much exploration and laughs, we decided on a monkey. After all, his room theme was rock and roll monkey, so he may as well play the part. Seeing him dressed and looking ridiculously cute was pretty great. But it was more than that. What really did it for me was being able to meet up with some friends and take him trick-or-treating.
Of course at 5 months, he didn’t know what was going on, but Aaron and I did. It was one of those experiences that we had dreamed of, and after a while, wondered if it would ever happen. We walked the city blocks that evening as a part of the excitement, not as outsiders looking in. Over time, and as our family has grown, we still acknowledge these moments. Events that many take for granted, we still experience in disbelief and gratitude.
This afternoon, we’ll once again meet up with friends, and take out two Batman’s and one Scully (aka, Sully from Monster’s Inc.) Our superheroes will bound down the street, pumpkins in hand, giddy with excitement about the next doorbell to ring and the treats that await. Our monster will waddle along, shrieking with joy, unaware of why, simply happy in being present. And Aaron and I will follow in awe, thankful for being included.
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