It is Halloween weekend. Overnight, the air (finally) turned decidedly chilly. Many of my friends (whether they have children or not) are excitedly preparing for Halloween with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns and house decorations and costumes and candy.
But not me. I just don’t have it in me. The most festive I could force myself to get was to buy two large potted red mums on impulse at Costco. Even those, blooming cheerily and brightly at the bottom of our front steps, seem hollow and false, as if they are trying too hard to hide somehow the sadness within the house behind them. Ed and I were at the grocery store on Sunday night and, seeing the rows and rows of Halloween candy, I asked, “Are we going to do anything for Halloween?” And by “do anything,” all I meant was “Are we going to give candy out?” I already knew the answer was no. We talked about whether it would be enough to just keep the front porch lights off, hang out upstairs and ignore the bell if it rang, or whether we might need to actually leave the house and do something else. Either way, it is just awful. But I just don’t think I can bear all the shiny, expectant little faces and all the cute costumes at the door. As it is, I think I will probably just have to avoid Facebook altogether for the next several days.
I know that this is just the beginning of what is going to be a long, sad season. My mother-in-law sent us an email last week with plans for Thanksgiving Day, and my heart just sank in my chest even thinking about it. The week after Thanksgiving is Hudson’s birthday, and although we will still celebrate it, it will be a very different celebration than it should be, than I am desperate for it to be. And only a few weeks later, we will have to endure the saddest Christmas of our lives. I have already been thinking hard about how much decorating for Christmas I can stand to do, even though decorating the house has always been one of my favorite parts about Christmas. I’ve been contemplating several scenarios by which I might avoid having to sit through the unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning (I’ve always loved watching people’s faces when they open the gifts I bought them), including going on a vacation and skipping it altogether.
I know I shouldn’t be thinking and worrying and dreading all of these things now. One day at a time and all that. But they are all part of a greater dilemma I have been facing lately. I’ve long been a person who believes in living life to the fullest. From the moment I first watched Dead Poets Society at the tender (and highly impressionable) age of thirteen, and heard the phrase carpe diem, and listened to the words of Thoreau, I’ve “wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I haven’t always done very well at this, but I have always kept it as a guiding principle. And now more than ever, I feel strongly that I need to live well, to live fully, to live the very best life that I can, for Hudson’s sake, because she will never get that chance. So it is terribly hard for me to feel like doing nothing more than curling up with a book, the television, or the internet. It is hard for me to wish I could just ignore my favorite holidays as they pass by, as if by ignoring them, they won’t actually happen without Hudson. As though if I wait long enough, she’ll be back and we can celebrate them with her then.
After my post a while back about how exhausting it is to be grieving and pregnant all at the same time, a friend of mine told me that it was just fine for me to “hibernate” until the spring. And truly, part of me does feel like my life might actually begin again in the spring when this baby comes and I get to be a mom again. Not that my life will start over, but just that it will restart. And part of me does just want to phone it in until then. Because being a mom who doesn’t actually get to be a mom, who doesn’t get to dress her little girl for Halloween or carve pumpkins with her or take her trick-or-treating or watch The Great Pumpkin with her or decorate paper turkeys with her for school or talk about things we’re thankful for with her or buy Christmas outfits and gifts for her or make Christmas cookies with her or read The Grinch or The Night Before Christmas with her or help her pick out a Christmas present for her daddy and grandparents (and don’t even get me started about snow and our birthdays and spring and the kite festival and the cherry blossoms and Easter)… well, it feels pretty much like sleepwalking anyway.