Hi Baby. I love you. Today is Halloween, a day that used to be Mommy’s favorite, but one that is still far too painful to power through without you. I absolutely hate that we don’t get to dress up as a family, going house to house and watching you squeal with excitement at all the candy and new friendships you would be collecting. Every night leading up to today, there have been pumpkin patches, tractor rides, trunk-or-treats, and all kinds of carnivals and festivities that you would’ve enjoyed. We loved doing these things with you, and hope you know that Daddy and I wish so badly that we still could.
Halloween always felt to Mommy how she imagines Christmas feels to those who love seeing the first signs of lit trees and giant snowflakes in the stores. Yes, it was my own Christmas in October, but all the excitement and fun left with you. I really hope you took everything I loved about today and are up there preparing the most incredible party for us for when we finally get to see each other and hold you in our arms again.
Halloween was a day to be silly, outlandish, and make people laugh. It was a day when I got to bring mini-cupcakes with orange and purple icing to your classroom and watch you and your friends make a sticky, royal mess together. It was a day that made going to work fun, seeing everyone with a lighter heart and bowls of candy waiting at their desks. It brought Mommy’s opera makeup tackle box down from the back of the closet and open to life with enchantment springing out of every shallow, rectangular compartment. It was hair dye and glitter, bobby pins and bright pink blush. It was dramatic blue hues of eyeshadow and multiple trips to thrift stores to find just the right pieces. It called for toxic clouds of hair spray and pantyhose turned into makeshift wig caps. (Sometimes the ironing board even made a guest appearance.) It took shape with “Bubba teeth” and pipe cleaner, and required “seamstress-challenged” power tools. I would have taught you the value of duct tape and coat hangers, and as time ran low, important decision making skills like whether to settle for staples and a healthy supply of safety pins, or to go with the trusty Velcro.
It was the one day a year when the playing field was decisively tipped in my favor, as even the poor kids with a little creativity and a cardboard box could still win costume contests. A day full of wonderment, observed especially by children, and big kids like Mommy, who have child-like spirits. It was a time for plastic spider rings that were too big for you, but slid onto Mommy’s ring finger easily, as if to signify her first love that has had her heart from the beginning. It was a special day we spent sharing with friends, and a night that always reminded me that those false eyelashes were still nestled in their slot because Mommy never learned how to put them on herself without gluing her eye shut.
It was also a day I got to pick you up early and spend the extra time hearing the elation and sugar in your tiny voice. Your talking and jibber jabber was rapid and complete with expressive eyebrows, jumping, random tight hugs, and clenched teeth to show Mommy how much you love her. I already knew the joy for this day was forming inside you and I couldn’t wait to see you grow up and experience it in your own way. You loved Halloween for different reasons than Mommy, but I can’t even tell you how extraordinary it was to get to share two of these holidays with you. You had the bug, my little monkey and that makes today hurt that much more.
I wonder what you would’ve wanted to be this year. Would you have been coerced to dress up in something Mommy picked for you again, or would you have your own ideas for morphing into one of your favorite characters?
Mommy liked it best when she became so disguised that even people who saw her every day didn’t recognize her. Remember Ms. Chantel’s face when Mommy came into your class looking like an old man with a baggy suit and “Bernie” campaign stickers? That’s how I feel now. I walk through these days, but I don’t recognize any of them anymore. They do not mean what they used to and I am not the same person I once was when you were here. It’s like my emotions are broken. I can see the world around me, but it is still like they are through that foggy glass I told you about when Mommy and Daddy took that first flight.
When you came along my excitement was palpable. Having you made me fall in love with Halloween even more. It suited me. YOU suited me. I do a pretty good job of choosing to have moments that honor you, but tonight is a night that it feels like all the joy was stolen with you. Like the song Mommy learned in music class all those years ago, “Fingernails, lunch pails, apple cores, too. Stir them in my witches’ brew, I got magic, alaka-zama-ka-zoo.” We had the most perfect, magical moments with you, Sweet Boy. Still, there is a cauldron of memories bubbling and so many more that I wish we would’ve had a chance to mix together and create.
You should be running through the neighborhoods with your cousins and your plastic bucket, and Mommy should have Kleenex stuffed in her pockets, ready to wipe your cute little pink nose from this 40-degree night. Maybe we would’ve done a really big group costume this year with our friends and you would be the star of the show as you always preferred. We probably wouldn’t have been able to give you all the time you wanted with all of your instant and adoring fans, and I’m certain you would still have plenty of high fives and unsaid greetings. I also imagine you probably would’ve been mad at Mommy and Daddy for making you come inside and you may have arched your back and thrown a proper toddler tantrum.
Maybe someday we will feel like taking out the earbuds that are drowning out the sounds of neighbors but today is not that day. Today, all the fun is sucked out and I miss you like a person who has gone mad. There are many days that I can at least put in a half-hearted effort, but this is not one of them. I was never into the scary, bloody parts of this holiday, but now, I notice all of the death-related decorations stirred in the pot and they are even more disturbing. I don’t need any more reminders of death. I can’t even process the most horrific loss that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I don’t know that I will ever be able to do this.
There is not a way to humanly describe how much I miss you, Caleb. My mind is not really here on Earth. I think of you incessantly and remember both the pure bliss as well as all the wretched things that I’m struggling to overcome during these “vampire hours.” I just know what I’m missing, and my heart aches that very few in our neighborhood realize there is the most beautiful, little boy not out there with them tonight. To know you is to love you and there is no one I knew and will always love more than you. You had all kinds of incredible tricks to show us, but Baby Boy, you will always be my biggest treat.
Save a bucket for me.