Saddest Halloween Ever
By last year the girls had grown out of Halloween-As-A-Family. I don’t think we even got pumpkins. There were no elaborate trick-or-treating plans, no family scary movie nights, and beyond paying for their costumes and driving them to their ultimate destinations, I had very little input in anything either of them did.
Ana and some friends dressed up as Orange Is The New Black characters and Emily went trick-or-treating with a friend, as she’s been doing for the last few years and will be doing again today.
I drove Emily to school this morning with her costume stuffed in a bag and pleaded with her to take a photo, at least, to throw her tired old mom a bone. She’s going to be a scary clown. That’s pretty much all I know.
Anyway, we mostly talked about Christmas. It’s Emily’s favorite holiday. As she chatted about doing lots of “little things” to celebrate Christmas this year (going to a farm to get a tree instead of going to Adam’s, seeing the Radio City Music Hall show, bedazzling our house with lights…), I tried not to obsess on how bereft this season’s going to be – the season Ana loved. How can we celebrate anything when only three of us remain?
Halloween is just the beginning. I’m looking down the barrel of a desolate November and I’m already cold.
Losing Ana has hastened the changing dynamics of our family which was already changing so fast. We raise our kids to be independent and as they age, so do our families. We were lucky to have Ana for nearly 16 years, lucky to see her begin to spread her wings and almost-fly. I am grateful she got to have a fun Halloween in Woodstock last year, but I wonder what she would’ve been this year. Is that greedy of me? If I could pick my own heaven, it would be reliving a day over and over again when the girls were 3 and 6 or 4 and 7 or 5 and 8, a day of shopping for costumes, watching pixar movies, baking cookies and warm, prolonged goodnight hugs. It wouldn’t necessarily be Christmas day. It would be the first day of holiday break when two weeks of freedom, and snow, and decorating, and bright-eyed children with content smiles stretched before me.
I knew, on some level, that those days wouldn’t last forever, but I’m not ready for them to be over yet. I’m not ready.
Ana started orchestrating her own Halloween plans at around the age of 13, the same exact age as Emily is this year. It is extra painful to watch Emily go through the same milestones as Ana did, but without her sister in front of her this time. It’s almost impossible for me not to see Ana’s fading milestones in Emily’s emerging ones. And, of course, this isn’t fair to Emily. But it’s there, you know? The ghost of Ana is right there as her sister ages up and our family ages right along with her.
Losing Ana was akin to a magnitude 9 earthquake in terms of how it impacted our family. She and Emily were the epicenter of everything–and this was especially true during the holidays. My world has a rift running through it that’s irreparable. Me, Jim, and Emily are standing on one side of it, cut off from everyone. I know we need to carve a new path, create new traditions, and let go of attachments that only cause us pain, but I don’t know how to do that yet.
For now, I can only take things a day at a time. I am grateful that Emily has a Halloween tradition that gives her joy and comfort, even if it doesn’t involve me.