Once upon a time I would spend the entire year planning for Halloween, spend months on my costume, write a short story for the season and spend the 31st running through smalltown New England with a literal herd of younger cousins, toilet papering a certain tree in my hometown as tradition states and ending the night with a candy binge that threatened to give me premature diabetes.
Sadly as time went by, stress intruded on my favorite night of the year.
When my oldest son was six we couldn’t go out because he took with the flu, so we also missed our family’s Halloween party. Unperturbed, I put on a marathon of goosebumps and purchased about $30 of candy, and we spent the night cuddled in a blanket fort in our former apartment, wearing our costumes even if nobody could see it.
The next year, my grandmother passed away in mid October. My family is extremely large – the woman had twelve children, they all had children and every single surviving one of them lived in the same town. Halloween was a big deal to her, but it wasn’t the same going to her house and not seeing her in the corner of her living room. There was no homemade candy, there was no mountain of toilet paper set aside or directions on how to avoid the police while toilet papering the tree at the top of her street. My son had never dealt with death before she died, but I don’t think it had hit him just how different it would be without her until then. On our rounds from my grandmother’s house through all of my aunts and uncles homes that littered the town, I quite eagerly accepted what looked like a coffee, but that hot cup was in fact warm vodka. Trying to preserve my love for the season, I clicked my Styrofoam cup with my older cousin, took a deep breath and carried on until we made it to the last aunt’s house. This was probably the best year out of the last 4.
At the beginning of October 2012, my son’s school insisted that they couldn’t manage him. We thought at the time that he only had ADHD, but he clearly had some anxiety and depression. Not wanting my son to be depressed at eight years old, I caved under the pressure of doctors and teachers and allowed him to be put on an antidepressant. He attempted to kill himself at school a few weeks later. In order to safely wean him off of the drug that he was reacting poorly to, he was committed to a mental health facility that didn’t allow parental visits aside from one hour of the day and wouldn’t allow children under 5 on the ward at all. They discovered his Aspergers while he was there, so I suppose they helped, but I hardly saw him because I had a 2 month old boy at the time and nobody could watch him for me. That October was spent with my 2 month old at home, worried for my son and unable to do anything about it except have his father stop there on his way home and share some dinner with him. I wrote to him on Halloween, sat down with my infant, turned on a horror movie and started to hate October a lot more.
Last year upped the ante. My uncle fell on the ice while playing hockey and while being checked for a concussion, they discovered an AVM. He was born with a large knot of arteries in his brain, so many that it looked like a baseball on the images they showed us. They were surprised that he’d survived to 50 because typically AVM’s rupture at a young age and once they do, you die. Fifteen hours of surgery left him safe from that, with only mild seizures. But, it’s hereditary. A few of my mother’s siblings were checked and had minor issues, but you already know what’s coming, don’t you? My mother did not have an AVM (thank you powers that be) but she did have 2 aneurisms that were ready to burst and very likely kill her, and one was in a place where they wouldn’t be able to go in through a vein. They needed to operate on her. I was living with my mother at the time while saving for the house I’m sitting in, but one of my aunts decided to come to the house to specifically tell me that the best thing for my mother would be if I wasn’t part of her life.
On October 15th of last year, four things happened. After twelve hours of surgery, my mother made it okay and unscathed aside from 51 staples across her face and enough swelling that she insisted she looked like chunk from the goonies. My family decided that I didn’t look upset enough for them and started to make more statements about how I was the world’s worst daughter, which led to them physically circling me, in a hospital, blocking my husband, father and brother from coming to my side, and screaming at me like the pack of wolves that they are. Security was called to get them off of me, and I was upset enough that I didn’t even get to see my mother because they stood in front of her door and stared me down. Remember, there are TEN of them that are still alive, plus spouses. My best friend of the last 21 years had her gorgeous baby boy, but had some complications and I couldn’t be there for her because I was dealing with the brain stuff. And my brother in law (one of them), who is 12 and severely autistic was physically assaulted at his school by his own teacher’s aid. Can I get a, “WTF?!”
I was wondering why my anxiety was getting so bad as soon as the calendar said October, but after about 2 seconds of reflection, I remember now. So far this month I only have poison oak over most of my body, and we’ve been shocked to see a man walk out of my garage after evidently sleeping there, although he was very polite when I explained that he couldn’t stay. It’s day 3, and all things considered, that’s really not that bad compared to the last few years lol.
So, October has become a very hard month for me, but this year is going to be different. Because I fucking said so. I am going to get my trick-or-treat on, although I’m undecided if I will TP that goddamn tree or not. My family infests that area and about a year ago I realized that they’re all toxic for me and my own little family to be around.
This year, my friend is celebrating her son’s first birthday with a Halloween themed party, I have both of my healthy and happy kids with me (they’re being ninjas and have been practice assassinating my husband all week), for ONCE my husband has Halloween off and is willing to let me dress him how I want so he’s going to be Marvelous Chester, and I will be seeing Miss Nicole Castle for the second time. And thankfully she’ll be staying for Halloween because we can use my kids to get free candy. We’re going to watch Thankskilling because she is the turkey overlord, eat far too much sugar and irritate my husband to the best of our ability, and when it’s all said and done and she has to go home, it will be November, which is a fine month in my opinion.
Still trying to figure out what we should go as, though – costume suggestions welcome
If I can get my feet under myself again, then I might write a short story for the season, so wish me luck!