HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Yesterday, I went down to CVS to buy a few more bags of candy for the Trick or Treaters, just in case kids from other towns who’d already had their night of Halloween might come into the square, as sometimes happens. And though I don’t know whether others joined our town’s kids or not, I was glad I did that, for I gave out about a hundred bars, and guess that meant about fifty to sixty little ones in costume.

For many years Rick and I always sat together at the end of our driveway, knowing that kids wouldn’t find our back door (and no one ever comes to front doors, do they?) For the past twenty four years Halloween has been here on North Street, and for twenty-two of those years, he and I would take our two wooden lawn chairs (that he’d made) out by the lantern. Rick would bring a cassette player and tapes of Halloween songs such as the Purple People Eater, the Monster Mash, the Witch Doctor … silly songs that reminded us of our own childhood years.  And yes, we’d each eat a few of the chocolate bars we were handing out. For the first seven or eight of those Halloweens we might sit alone, as one of us would be shadowing Rob on his own Trick or Treat journey around the neighborhood streets, and of course, driving him across town, first to the north end, and then to south, to see the grandparents and show them his costume. Once he was in his teens, Rick and I most often sat together, wrapped in our quilts, listening to those silly songs and greeting our young visitors.

This year and last were so different. I sat alone, and as the evening darkened I replaced the burned out lightbulb in the post lantern. I didn’t bring the music out (I don’t actually know where to find those tapes) but instead brought a book and a flashlight, and sat alone, wrapped in my quilt, reading between visitors. My neighbor across the street was not home, and the house next door to him is empty and dark. Our lantern didn’t throw much light, as I think I put just a 40 watt bulb in it … it was enough that they could see that I was there, and they all stopped by to wish me a happy halloween and collect their treats. But between each group’s visit the night returned to dark and quiet. I didn’t read more than a few pages in those two hours … I was oddly calm, sitting alone in the small puddle of light on the dark street. I had no sense of fear, or worry, or danger. I don’t fear danger anymore. I don’t worry about what might happen to me. I don’t worry about anything. What will be, will be.

I talked with a good friend yesterday, sharing a cup of tea with updates of how her grandchildren are doing … she asked about mine, and I confessed I don’t know.  I remembered that my counselor and doctor had both asked me to share with close friends and families my honest thoughts … and so I did. She told me of a friend of hers who had just passed away from ALS … and I shared her sympathy for the friends’ family, saying it was nice to know that they realized her pain had ended with her death, and her peace could now begin and be appreciated by those left behind … I told my friend that I had wanted my family to have that same sense of my finding my peace, and Rick, when I tried last year … She immediately said that oh so familiar sentence … “But it wasn’t your time.” I told her I understood that those who called the police and had me taken to the hospital believed that … they believed that God had a plan still in place here for me. And I told her that I have tried to accept that, but still don’t know what His plan for me is … there are many people who could and do make those quilts that I make … and I don’t understand why my free will, my choice, was not honored by my friends, or by Him.  I wanted to be with Rick … I miss him so much. But they wanted me to stay here, alone as I am.

I won’t try again. My emotional pain remains as all encompassing as it did the day Rick died… as it has every day since. My heart truly did die with his. I have resigned myself to having to wait until a sufficient amount of physical pain and illness will justify it being ‘my time.’ My friend acknowledged what i was telling her … that though my pain is invisible, it is as real as a physical pain. But still, she said, it’s ‘not my time, not yet. People here love me, and don’t want me to go yet.’  I asked if her friend’s family didn’t also love her, and not want her to go yet … I’m sure she was thinking to herself that the ALS symptoms and pains are worse than my depression and empty sense of loss without Rick. I can’t help her understand the parity between the two. I can’t help anyone understand that. But I can’t deny that I feel cheated of my free will, of my choice, of my planned exit. I cannot understand why they think life without him is better than death with him.

I cannot explain it, I cannot repeat it, I cannot appreciate their wish that I would remain here, without Rick.  And they cannot explain it to me.

And so I will continue to do what Rick and I had done together for each annual event such as Halloween, and Veteran’s Day, and Election Day, and Thanksgiving, and Small Business Saturday, and Christmas – the hardest of all – Christmas… and all of the ordinary days between those annual events. I will endure each day one by one as they continue for me, and wait as patiently as I can for the malignant melanoma, the degenerative multiple sclerosis, the osteoporosis, the scoliosis, the optic neuritis … none of which anyone can see  … I will wait as patiently as I can for one of those to take hold and grow and increase and eventually, finally, let it be ‘my time.’ And I will pray that when I get to go, not by free choice but by exhausting my life, that they will say ‘rest in peace’ for me.

Rick, I ask that you wait patiently for my body to give out as yours did … with this song:

 

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2 Comments

  1. Kit Minden

    Dear Terry,

    I cannot imagine how it must feel to have one’s work done and so to be able to consider going. When Parker dies, I will be so lonely but my work will not be finished as our son, and others, will still need me. I will need to be here as long as I can. I once dreamed of being able to sit quietly and just watch life happen around me, but I fear it will never be my path.

    I used to love Halloween in my old neighborhood. We had about 150 kids each year. All the neighbors came out to visit each other and to holler across the street. It was our most neighborly holiday. I guess if I were alone, I’d throw in with a neighbor and sit with them or have them sit with me.

    I don’t know a lot of folks in our current location but I have a community through the local library and through a couple of online neighbor groups. I mean something there and the folks I meet mean something to me. So, even though I cannot be what I once was due to MS, I am part of the world.

    You have so much world that comes to you still. I wonder why it doesn’t fill some space in you to make life going forward more fulfilling. Maybe I always planned to be alone again one day emotionally as Parker is so much older (13 1/2 years). It will be painful but I will find ways to keep filling in the spaces.

    Keep writing and sharing as we are neighbors, too, though we be hundreds of miles apart. I love getting to know you and imagining all the folks you speak of often.

    Much love,
    Kit

  2. Renee Jones

    Hi Terry. I just now read this email as I don’t check my email very often. I usually only get spam so I don’t bother looking at it. I’m so sorry that you understand as well as I do that emotional pain is as unbearable as physical pain. I too have experienced both and I find the emotional pain to be worse because other people can’t see it. I wish I had some comforting words to lessen your pain but I don’t. All I can offer is to enjoy as many simple pleasures as you can as they come. They do come nearly every day. Maybe it’s a delicious snack or a funny tv show. Mostly distractions that allow us to go through the motions of living until we eventually die. We do this because some days we are needed. Maybe not as much as we once felt we were but we are needed. I love you and my life is better because I met you. I have learn a lot from you and even though I don’t leave my house much and rarely visit any body, I think of you often and it always brings a warm feeling and a smile to my face. I wish I were more like you.

    Renee

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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