It’s Halloween again. I used to mark my year’s passing by holidays and life events. Now that Clayton is gone, my year is filled with reminders written in grief across the days, weeks, months and seasons. My year is a grief calendar.
It’s been four years since I really did anything. We dress up at work for the kids to come and Trick-or-Treat but that’s not the same. Tin loved Halloween. He embraced whatever costume he poured his excitement into. There is something magically innocent about playing pretend. You feel like a kid again allowing your imagination to run free. I used to feel that way but as people throw costume parties and kids collect their candy, I start to collect my memories of the treats I had before life tricked me. I wish I could have that time back and ironically tonight is daylight savings. The clocks turn back but not back far enough to hold his hand on Halloween just one more time.
Sometimes, when I walk into a place I haven’t experienced since Clayton died, I time travel. My mind reverts to the last time I was there and I briefly forget he’s gone. It’s really hard when present time hits and the heartache returns. I try to get through grief doors on my way moving forward. However, my fear is going through the other side of this Halloween door and finding I stumbled into a haunted house. Monsters in mirrored memories, my lost spirits and skeletons surprising me around a seemingly safe and simple spooky scene while ghosts of Halloween past cause me to gasp for air around strangers. Everywhere I look I don’t recognize anyone, they are coming towards me and I can’t escape. I finally let my imagination out and now it’s got the best of me. I reach for his hand and the horror sets in. He’s gone, I’m alone in a nightmare and I can’t control grief’s rushing return when I remember.
In all honesty, I don’t do many things I used to because I’m scared. I’m scared I will get upset and not be able to contain it. I can’t feel shame for my emotions but I also don’t need them to be on a public stage. There is no stopping the flood when my grief gates break. You see, for me, everyday already has a little dusting of Halloween pretend. A bit of costume and slight of hand, I’m the ringleader and entertainers of my own widowed circus. Some days I juggle, some days I walk the tight rope. Some days I feel like the side show freak, the widowed weirdo, and some days I’m the acrobat or the fire breather. It brings me great joy entertaining the crowd but some nights after the show, somewhere behind the scenes of the big top, there are tears of a clown when there’s no one around…