Yesterday was Halloween. It was cold and rainy and lots of kids came by. Not that I would know how many kids have ever come by before. I’ve always halloweened elsewhere. Before I had kids, I’d turn off the lights and hide in the basement – a total party pooper.
I ran out for candy in the afternoon. Since my porch light is broken and I “forgot” to get a pumpkin, I lit a bunch of candles in my front window. Very Shabbat meets Hannukah, meets haunted house.
I could hear action outside but there were no knocks at my door. Concerned that I hadn’t made my There’s candy here this year, really there is point, I borrowed a beautifully carved, already lit, pumpkin from my neighbour. How kind was that?
Now that’s more like it. Along came the kiddies.
It’s been exactly a year since I got diagnosed.
Last Halloween, the day after they told me it was cancer, the day before they told me what kind, I walked around in a costumed fog. It all felt as wrong as a funeral procession in Jerusalem years ago, for the Lubavitcher Rebbe who was being buried on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Thousands of solemn costumed Orthodox mourners followed the casket through the streets. A bit of a dramatic analogy perhaps. I wasn’t dead but who knew what was coming? All I could think was look at all these fucking happy healthy parents with years of trick or treating ahead.
The funny thing is, it was my last year going out to trick or treat with my kid, but not for the reasons I feared that night. If I had been in my right mind, I would have embraced the moment. He was already outgrowing my all hallows company.
This year I made just one costumic intervention. The kid, for no apparent reason, unless there was a game of strip poker he was secretly going to attend, had put his very thin nylon spider man costume, underneath his very thin nylon storm trooper costume and claimed he’d be warm enough – he was wearing two layers.
“Are you kidding, that’s like two layers of Saran Wrap.” In fact Saran Wrap would have been warmer. That shit doesn’t breathe. I forced him to put cotton tights on underneath.
Suddenly, and you don’t know quite when because it’s different for different kids, the Halloween arrives when one of your children heads off to hang out with a friend you've never met - no costume in sight, and the other kid squeezes himself into years old spider man and storm trooper outfits and takes to the streets with a pal - no parental accompaniment required. And you don't bother taking pictures. You sit on the couch in the living room, feeling grateful, drinking a martini, and jump up when the doorbell rings and yell Happy Halloween at the parade of cuteness streaming by.
And that's the way it's meant to be.