It’s Halloween again. Which, as you know, is my favorite holiday.
You might not have known that you’re the reason. You always saw it, like you saw most things in life (including the living room walls) as an opportunity to express your ridiculously abundant creativity. I remember the year Jen, Bobbi and I were a train composed of cardboard boxes. I was the engine, with my little conductor hat. Jen was the passenger car. Bobbi was the caboose. I think I have a photo of that somewhere. Thanks to you, we always had the best homemade costumes, not the crappy plastic suffocation-hazards that were store-bought costumes in the late 70s and early 80s. You would break out your sewing machine and hot glue gun, and by God, we’d all look amazing.
The girls are coming this evening with their kids. We all usually do store-bought costumes, but to be fair, store-bought costumes are a lot better now than they used to be. We’ll all miss you, as we always do.
I was thinking the other day that the last time I saw you healthy, before you went into the hospital with pneumonia that turned out to be stage 4 lung cancer, was at Bobbi’s Halloween party. You were dressed in a towel.
Because, along with your ridiculously abundant creativity, you also had no inhibitions whatsoever and a sketchy grasp of what was appropriate for a well-endowed woman to wear in public. But that was just another of the weird and wonderful things we loved about you. At least, when you weren’t unintentionally flashing someone.
Your costume was one of those towels that are sewn closed and have elastic at the top. Sort of a towel-dress, I suppose. You’d attached light blue balloons to it to represent bubbles. I still have no idea how you got them to stick to that towel. And you were carrying a back brush, and your hair was tucked into a shower cap. In hindsight, considering you lost your hair to the chemo, I wish the last time I’d seen you healthy, your hair had been down.
Of course, you probably weren’t really healthy that night, were you? You were already sick, but none of us knew it. There were a lot of things that we didn’t know then, good and bad.
I wish you could be here, Mom. I wish you could see your gaggle of grandkids, and the extremely cool grown-ups your kids turned out to be. I wish you could be here when I get a real, actual paperback book with my name on the cover next year. A friend of mine who’s also an author got the first couple of copies of his second book a few weeks ago, and he immediately shipped one off to his mom. “First one always goes to Mom,” he said, and I had to leave the room for a minute.
I don’t believe in ghosts. But I’m not sure you can’t at least see and hear us where you are. If you can, I hope you enjoy tonight. I hope you are somewhere laughing and smiling at how silly we are, and how much fun the kids have.