Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The start of chilly nights (there are so few in Southern California…), the lengthening of shadows in the afternoon, the crunch of leaves, and the smell of candles inside jack-o-lanterns. All of the thrills of Halloween were rediscovered when I had children. Scooping pumpkin guts, decorating the windows, and choosing costumes took on all new joys and motivation.
I remember the first Halloween after Caitlin was diagnosed. It was difficult to keep the tears at bay and keep the joy level high. Even though it had been a few months, we were essentially still in shock. Sometimes, it was so hard not to focus on what it seemed Caitlin was losing, by struggling with the pain and challenge of arthritis. And something like Halloween, which was a simple joy of childhood, brought up those questions again….
It was Tricky…. Though she was as excited as ever, being three years old…. We wondered if she would be able to have the time she wanted. She was so puffy and swollen from high doses of prednisone that it was tough to find a costume that fit comfortably. Our snug little Magenta (from Blue’s Clues) wanted to go ‘round with her friends… and we worried if she would be able to make it up to the corner, let alone several blocks. We ended up opting for a wagon… and we pulled her quickly from house to house and up to the porch steps. But then, there were “The Looks”. You know what I mean… the looks of people judging because they don’t have enough information to understand. They see a kid, who looks heavy, sitting in a wagon instead of walking – but no cast or leg brace in sight. And you see the look. “Do you think that child really needs this candy? Maybe she should get up and get some exercise?” I’ve heard the unfortunately too loud whispers often enough over the years to know that I’m probably not just being overly sensitive… I’m probably not misinterpreting the look.
But at the end of the night, Caitlin knew nothing else but that she’d had a wonderful night! And she had a ton of treats, real and figurative to remember, and to make Halloween one of her favorite times of year too.
Over the years, there have been more Halloweens in a wagon. There have been years walking, and years when once around the block was all she could manage. There was a year or two of running, gleefully, and then paying a bit the next morning. I know that there is probably only one or two more years of this Charlie Brown Halloween left, before she moves on to bigger, “cooler” plans, and that makes a mom pretty nostalgic. Arthritis has given us some pretty big Tricks over the years…. But looking back at the smiling face of my sweet little skunk, genie, Tinkerbell, cheerleader, witch, dead fairy, and this year – one of the Charlie’s Angels, I know we have had many, many more Treats. Happy Halloween!