Halloween Therapy

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I’ve been meaning to write a post about Halloween all season, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say and the only words that kept coming to me were “halloween therapy.” This year Halloween was therapeutic. It was healing.

Two years ago my mom got sick a few days before Halloween. Two weeks later she was dead. Two days before that, I’d found out my wife was pregnant. Two years later, I have a toddler. Two minutes ago he nearly fell down the stairs, then nearly tripped onto an eye-gouging corner, and next he’s going for triumvirate of burning himself on the oven door.

Yet something always just stops him, just rights him upwards. Maybe it’s my mom. Maybe it’s me screaming no in a sweat-laced panic. Maybe it’s babies are just walking near misses. I feel like that myself, a near miss of sadness, but here I am, happy and eating leftover Halloween candy.

Last year I didn’t touch my Halloween decorations. I didn’t want to look in the bins that had been hastily packed up the year before, full of shit memories, as though I’d find a dialysis machine in there or the nurse that wouldn’t look my father in the eyes.

But I went in and dug out the bins this year, and all I found was Halloween decorations. Yeah, they were shoved and crammed, as hasty as I knew I’d done it. But unpacking the decorations did not unpack whatever it was I’d feared the year before.

Besides that, I had to decorate for the kid. My kid knows five words. Dog, up, car, bottle, and ghost. He loves the Halloween decorations. Everything is a ghost to him.

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This is how you know that someone has no fucks left to be given, when they string a clothesline of ghosts across their yard. We continuously corrected our son that they weren’t all ghosts; at least one was a severed head. (It’s his favorite.)

Healing comes in the form of fun-sized Reese Cups, fake severed heads, and a 15-month old repeating the word ghost ghost ghost. It comes in the form of a kid in a Kylo Ren costume coming up to your house. I gave the kid props on his Kylo, and with the weariness only a child can muster, he said “finally someone gets it.”

I get it kid. I do.

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7 responses to “Halloween Therapy

  1. I love that clothesline of ghosts! Halloween is hands down the most fun holiday to decorate for so I’m glad you were able to get back into it this year.

  2. I love this. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, I would give up Thanksgiving in a heartbeat if it meant I could have another Halloween a year. But when I was 11, my family moved from Minnesota to Florida and we left behind my Gramps, my friends, my family, my everything. And as that’s not in the same category as losing a parent, it was still rough for me. It took me a few years to fall in love with it again. It takes awhile, but its good to celebrate, especially since you have little ones now!

  3. We always say Halloween threw up in our house! Love the clothesline idea, and the idea that healing can come from unexpected places . . . like severed heads!

  4. Wit and pizza? Loving the blog.

  5. It gets even more fun with the kiddos as they get older. Last year my daughter was only old enough to laugh maniacally as we took her brother trick or treating. How did she know to even laugh like a cartoon villain while walking the gourd lit streets? This year we got to watch her brother hold her hand as they walked up together and hear her sweet little voice say, “trick or treat!”

    Your little personal sized pizza will love it next year!

    Also, I didn’t go through the same exact thing as you but I’ve been through my own traumas. I can totally relate to the fear of remembering, the fear of what might be a trigger for you. Thanks for expressing that.

  6. I am so sorry to hear about your loss and the recovered memories. My grandmother passes away when my mother and I were doing our chemo treatments and of course we have so many kiddie Christmas decorations that we made with her. Nostalgia is rough. I’m sorry.

  7. It is difficult to move into enjoying the moment when it is a reminder of what is lost. I am glad you took the first step to building great memories around what is obviously a fun holiday for you. I am sure your mother was among those “ghosts” your son was talking to.

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