Friday as I was anticipating spending my first Halloween across The state from my kids I tried and could not remember the last time I took them trick or treating. Could it have been the year we dragged my daughter the ghost bride along with my son’s young teenage friends, her energy flagging until at last we arrived home frozen and worn out only to discover her fever? She seemed so young in my memories and photos of that night I can’t believe it was our last, and I can’t remember going together again.
How many other lasts have passed unnoticed? I wondered Friday as I served breakfast to my day care kids who asked me if my kids would be trick or treating. I wrote down the title of this post while they are in hopes of thinking more about it when I had time this weekend.
I don’t remember lots of things, not the last time I saw my father alive, nor being at his funeral, though I know I was. Yet I remember the light on my aunt’s stairs as I came to greet my mother returning from the hospital to share the news afte my father died and I remember the conversation on my grandma’s couch shortly after hearing the news. Why those two memories stuck and not the others, I don’t know.
I don’t remember the last holiday we spent in my mom’s home, though I remember a Christmas I cried in my room after opening my gifts, including turtle necks I’d chosen myself and a makeup mirror my sister had wanted and I had not. I remember the sadness and confusion crystallized in that moment of transition from childhood to adolescence, but still can’t say what caused the sadness to run so deep.
This year my teens and young adult children did their thing on Halloween, one in Watertown at a sleepover with friends, one at work at Improv Boston, one at college at Rpi. Late afternoon I sent them a texted photo, along with my mom and sister. Richard had me climb into a coffin in someone’s Shutesbury yard after we’d been hiking with friends and and my daughter had texted me Happy Halloween. Other years I would have seen my sister for her Halloween birthday. This year we met over text, sending well wishes and photos back and forth across our group messages.
Later I carved a tiny pumpkin Richard bought at the farmers market while the two big ones the kids had chosen on our way back from Ashfield on Columbus Day sat on our Somerville porch uncarved and alone, no one home there to give out candy or light them up. Richard was pleased with my carving. I asked him when he last carved a pumpkin. He didn’t remember. Ah, well. We lit the tiny jack O lantern and put it on his Northampton porch to welcome the trick or treaters that never came. Richard carried it through the neighborhood as we walked to friends’ for dinner, and it lit up the table during our kids free dinner party, stayed the night after we went home to Richard’s quiet house.