After my husband died, it was terribly hard to look at anything to do with Halloween. Even just driving to work I couldn’t avoid it all. We had enjoyed a mildly scary holiday with our children as they grew up, but in the aftermath of suicide, death had new meaning. I felt the decorated yards, gruesome costumes and other things were just cruel, and they caused me fresh pain. Many of you probably feel the same way right about now.
It has been eleven years, and I have two little grandsons now, ages 2 and 4. It seems easier this year. Most of what we do is related to the harvest time of year. But this weekend there were jack-o-lanterns with lopsided grins on the front steps again, fake spider webs draped along my walls, and superheroes handing out candy at “trunk or treat.” There was music and laughter and candlelight set against the first leaves changing colors. And cupcakes.
As I watched the cutest Wonder-woman and the kindest Hulk decorate their car trunk in the sunny field, a little Batman hoisted a super-size Batman balloon three times his size and carried it here and there. Spiderman climbed into the open hatchback and declared he wanted to give out the candy while his counterpart balloon settled on the grass and nodded sagely with the breeze.
Truth be told, he and little Batman ate quite a bit of the sweet stuff as they dropped great handfuls into bags and plastic pumpkins. But there they were, an Alliance of Four. Yet another sign that life would find a way to go on. They were continuing their daily routine, creating a family, which is their strongest superpower, adding adventure, tucking in memories around the corners, building trust and love and hope brick by brick.
They wore their real identities that day. Maybe no one else knew what superheroes they really are, but I did. How much it took to finish college when all seemed lost, how many times a text or call came in “just to check” on mom, what power had to be harnessed to raise little humans and go to work without sleep when going on had so many reminders of going back.
Going on is terribly hard for a while. A long while. But there is still a good life to be lived, just like there are still good memories. And those things like candlelight and music and cupcakes will be sweet again. At the center of our lives is still the one we lost. Always present. Always loved. Always an influence for good.
How do you go on?