Well, it is Halloween again. I’ve been feeling so much sadder over the last few days. I knew Halloween was coming up, but today I realized that not only is it Halloween, but it is our second Halloween without you, sweetheart. So begins our second everything without you—Halloween, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Christmas… I thought the firsts of everything would be the worst, and it’s true that so many things are different this year than last year, especially the joy your little brother brings us every day. But I remember another mommy who lost her child telling me that the second year would be worse, and now I understand that, too. The first time around, it was all still so unreal, almost like it was all just a mistake still to be corrected, a bad dream we just had to wake up from. But the second time comes around and you’re still not here—it is like the beginning of understanding, maybe even for the very first time, that you will never be here again. This will never change. There will be third, fourth, tenth, twentieth Halloweens, Thanksgivings, birthdays, and Christmases without you, and no matter how many go by, you will never be here again. This second Halloween is the first time that has really hit me.
What would this Halloween have been like with you? We carved pumpkins this year—we were too sad to do it last year. I know you would have had so much fun scooping out the pumpkin guts and helping us design a face. This year, we made one especially for you. And we’ll make one like it every year to remember you. Next year, Jackson can help us.
I wonder what you would have wanted to dress as. Your monkey costume was so fitting for you two years ago, but I am sure you would have chosen your own this year. Your friend Emma dressed as an airplane, I think—I can see you wanting to be the same thing. But you would be twice as old as when I last knew you—who knows what you would be into now? We would have had so much fun at the Halloween party at St. Ann’s. At your only Halloween, you and all your friends were so little that all we could was prop you all up on the couch to take your picture together. Now you would be running around after them, screaming and laughing. And we’d have gone trick-or-treating tonight, although I don’t know how much candy we would actually have let you have. Maybe a few pieces and then we’d cross our fingers that you wouldn’t notice the rest disappear. I just don’t know, sweetie. I wish I did.
Your daddy and I debated several times about whether to take your little brother to the pumpkin patch this year. We knew it would be sad to be there without you and we also knew Jackson was probably too little to get much out of it. Ultimately, we just didn’t go. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision—it just kind of didn’t happen.
But I still wondered whether I’d later regret not taking him to a pumpkin patch for his first Halloween. Whether I’d regret not having those sweet pictures like the ones we have with you. Whether I’d feel awful trying to explain to him one day that the reason we didn’t really celebrate his first Halloween is because we were still too sad about you being gone.
So this morning, when my lunch plans fell through and your brother wouldn’t take a nap in his crib, I figured a long drive out into the country was just what we both needed. I was right. I dressed Jackson in his penguin suit and he fell asleep in the car while I enjoyed the quiet time and the gorgeous leaves on the road out to Homestead Farm where we took you two years ago. On the way there, I realized that going out there had very little to do with wanting to make sure we had pictures of your brother in the pumpkin patch (although now I’m very glad that we do). All I really wanted was to feel close to you on this sad day, and I hoped that this place that is so full of sweet memories of you would help me do that.
And it did. As I had anticipated, there were hardly any people at the farm. It’s a Monday, so everyone is working and in school, and anyone who wanted a Halloween pumpkin probably already had one by now. All the pumpkins and apples were already picked, so it felt a little empty and sad, but strangely, it felt happy, too, like I could almost hear the echoes of children who had been laughing and running around there just yesterday. It reminded me of our life here without you, really. Jackson and I took a long, quiet walk around the outside of the apple orchard, and I took some pictures of him with the animals, and in the hay, and with the pumpkins, just like we did with you. Before Jackson was born, I used to think that taking pictures of him in the same places we used to take you would be somehow morbid or awful, as if it would seem like we were just trying to fill your space with him, even though I knew that could never happen. But what I realize now is that these photos help me feel like he can somehow be with you, not be you, but be with you. The idea of him sitting in the same places you did, smiling at the same animals you smiled at, riding in the same wheelbarrows you rode in—it helps me imagine that even though you are gone, you are still with him somehow. Still with us somehow.
When your daddy got home tonight, we visited a little bit and then he started to make his way upstairs with Jackson to give him his bath and put him to bed, just like he used to do with you every night. Right as he got to the foot of the stairs, the version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that we think of as yours came on my iPod. Daddy and Jackson came back into the kitchen and we stood there together and hugged each other. Daddy and I cried for you, dear heart, both of us wishing so much that you could be here. Your brother smiled at us, so innocent and oblivious to our sadness, just happy for our company. And we couldn’t help but smile, too. Your Aunt Jess says she is convinced that song always comes on for a reason. I have to agree with her. Thank you for that precious gift tonight, my girl.
We love you and we miss you desperately, Hudson, on this, our second Halloween without you.