Halloween, Gone?

DJ and Stephanie, Halloween, many years ago

DJ and Stephanie, Halloween, many years ago

Interestingly, Halloween is one of the toughest times of the year for me.  It is odd which days become peppered with melancholy.

Christmas and Thanksgiving, although bitter-sweet, bring family together.  My girls are home.  We see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Happy stories are relived and new memories are created.  Although I miss Lisa, I revel in the time with other loved ones.  Yet Halloween, which was orchestrated on Dellwood Drive in typical Lisa Tanner fashion, has simply left a void.

She was the one who decided we needed to have a neighborhood gathering each year before trick or treating.  The handful of kids on the block would parade from one end of the street to the other with pizza as their prize for completing the eighth of a mile hike.  Mrs. Eckles, an elderly woman who lived at 1417, pulled a 1950’s lawn chair to the curb and cheered us on as Cinderella, the Ninja Turtle and Hannah Montana proudly waved to the slight crowd.

Mrs. Eckles, like Lisa, is gone.

Ghoulish tunes and the Monster Mash played in the background on our front porch, the same CD repeated from 5pm until 9pm without ceasing.

Our early years left Lisa at home with Jeana, our neighbor, drinking wine in rocking chairs as they handed out treats.  The dads set out with PBR and wagons, stopping halfway at a friend’s house for our annual trick or treat potty break.  Hauling that three kidded wagon up Elvin Court, a cul-de-sac with a rapid descent, took more strength than bench pressing 200 pounds at the gym.

We had few rain nights over the years, but the one I remember was miserable.  An hour in I wondered to myself why I ever had children.

This year was my first kidless Halloween.  DJ is a college, trick or treating on Embassy Row in DC.  Stephanie had friends over to watch scary movies – dads not needed to protect anymore.  Michelle was invited to a friend’s house, a more appropriate trick or treat partner for a newly turned 13-year-old.

There was no music on the porch, simply a large bowl of candy and a sign that read Only take two or I will find you.  Of course, some bozo emptied it out about an hour in I understand.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this Halloween.  I had dinner with a friend and then met others for grown up conversation.  But man how times have changed.

I’m sure there would have been Halloween voids even if Lisa had lived.  We would have had to develop new rituals.  It isn’t likely I would be pulling around three teenagers in the Radio Flyer.  And yet, that realization is meaningless to me because I didn’t get that chance.

Someone hurts a little deeper on Veteran’s Day, which is an easy one for me.  It could be black Friday stings for the daughter who spent that day at the Factory Outlets with her mom who is no longer here.

I think sometimes grief magnifies the things that were most special to us about the ones we’ve lost.  Often it is something that we never considered would hurt us at all.

Leave a comment


  1. Sometimes I wonder how life can just keep going, when you lose a piece of you. I can’t even begin to understand your pain, but I sympathize and commend you on doing such a wonderful job with those girls.

  2. Halloween is my favorite as well. It really does mark the beginning of holiday season.

  3. Your post moved me – it is so true that life simply “goes on” but how terribly hard that can be. I wish you happiness and I`m sure Lisa will be looking down on you and seeing what a great job you are doing with your daughters xx

  4. Katie Martin

     /  November 11, 2015

    Wow, Bruce. You really hit a chord. We all have our days that have lost their meaning…or became more meaningful and painful once our loved one is no longer here. Thanks, as always, for sharing your beautiful heart.

  5. In your situation, the first kidless Halloween would be incredibly hard. I can only imagine the changes and struggles that you must go through, many of them without warning. You are absolutely right about grieving over things that on a normal day, we probably wouldn’t. My stepfather loved oatmeal creme cookies. I used to also before he passed. Now I can’t even look at them without tears welling up in my eyes.

  6. Time does mean it’s going to be easier when you lose someone you love, I totally understand your feelings since I am a grieving widow. There are things around the house that make me tear up, feel lonely and feel like I hit bottom. You will never forget, but enjoy the blessing you have right now. You’ve done a very good job of raising your girls, it make me think of my family, I tear up just listen to you talk how Halloween has changed for you, I agree you looking back over my life. I know I love David so much my heart hurts, but life must go on. Think of the good times you had, it still could make you feel lonely it helps to know what things make you smile. I will keep you in my prayers, take care and enjoy your girls.

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more that grief magnifies the things most special to us about ones we loved and lost. Sometimes those moments sneek up on you when you least expect it. Just knowing you aren’t the only one makes a difference. For me it has been almost 6 years since I lost my dad and there still moments that stop me and I hear myself say “God I miss you Dad”. Sometimes it is a song or a day and sometimes it is just those quite moments in the early morning. As much as I miss him, I am very lucky to have had him in my life and to have him as my dad.

  8. P Cusick

     /  November 12, 2015

    This was great and so true. Know exactly how you feel !

  9. April Poole

     /  November 13, 2015

    You have expressed so well how one feels when a loved one past on way before their time. Wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn’t; you just put it all in a box and tuck it away. Thanksgiving is such a time for me. It is such a comfort to read the words so well expressed by you – thank you.

  10. Nice, thanks for sharring

  11. I love to read your heart in words, love your writing style, am sorry you have the hurt, and joyful that you can express it so that I cry when reading your memories. I have not lost someone, and know when that day comes, I will re-read your posts. Thank you for saying these thoughts so well and so real.


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