Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, the Mask of Grief

Today is Halloween and although we do not celebrate it like we did when my daughter Marcy was alive and young enough to enjoy the night, we still answer the door to the goblin and fairy princess costumes from our neighborhood.

“How pretty you look,” I say to the young children. “And how scary you look, I tell the young boys who have on evil masks.”

We have spooky music we play when they ring the bell. We used to do that with Marcy’s friends also. Most of the very little ones scream, but they don’t run away (since most have parents with them). Some laugh, older ones think it’s corny. It is a tradition and traditions are sacred. We open the door, check out the masks and the costumes and then place candy in each bag, watching them trail off to the next house, comparing their ‘take’ to make sure they all got equal amounts.

I remember Marcy always tried to make simple costumes, ones that didn’t feel cumbersome on her. She always looked cute, and I always took pictures. After she would go trick or treating, she would bring home the candy and we’d sort it out. If it was not in a closed wrapper, into the garbage it went. She understood why we did this. Then her father would invariably ask for a few of the ones he liked and being the generous person she was, she gave him what he wanted. The candy was taken to school the next day and friends exchanged, bartered, bargained and gave away some to those who did not get to go out the night before. Many times, candy was discarded after a few weeks, but it was always a happy celebration.

These are my memories of Halloween, and I hold them close to me. Now on Halloween, I don a different type of mask, one that will cover the tears that start to form and the heaviness in my chest. Will it always be like this? Perhaps.

Halloween is one of the holidays that can still hold joy, laughter and happiness for the little ones. Never did I think that I would be wearing the mask I wear today, that of a bereaved parent. But we can still look back and remember those good times at Halloween as we do with all our memories…the only thing we have left of our children.

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