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.