Today’s my little guy’s birthday. He’s got the fall sniffles, so he’s extra snuggly. Which is a special treat, since he's 2 and on the move ALL the time.
We decorated over the weekend for his taco party, because taco is his favorite word. We decorated for Halloween too. I don’t usually feel like being festive for any occasion in October. But this year, to my great surprise it actually sounded fun to decorate, and I rode the wave while it lasted. My bank card rode that wave too… sorry, babe. Apparently in 2020 the price of October wellness is a giant fuzzy spider that’s now perched on our palm tree.
Our 10-year-old is elated – she loves a theme and all things “extra.” So when Halloween rolls around, her favorite holiday, she wants to go all out.
Why I wish Halloween would disappear
I’ve avoided a conversation about Halloween every year until now. Last year we just skipped Halloween all together. I hung up cheerful pumpkins and scarecrows for “fall” instead and I haven’t heard the end of it since. I finally had to explain to her last week in the Party City parking lot why Mommy just can’t do creepy Halloween. What I can do are jack-o-lanterns and bats and even a quirky sunbathing skeleton or two (see: our front lawn). But I draw the line at anything haunted or creepy or gory or “undead.” Blood, death, possessed children, psychotic killers, corpse brides… no thanks.
This stuff was never really my cup of tea anyway. So once we had to contend with actual death in the month of October, I really wished Halloween would just go away. Visiting a real burial ground is hard enough when it’s holy and consecrated, so I’m definitely not interested in zombies coming out of a haunted one.
Even watching the words spill across the page here makes me roll my own eyes at my own self and think “Lord woman, just lighten up already. The kid just wants to put a life-size animated vampire on the front porch; what’s the big deal?”
I wish I could lighten up. Maybe someday. Maybe?
October is pregnancy loss month
October’s the month our son was born and died, and it’s also coincidentally National Pregnancy Loss month. It’s also the month we almost lost our marriage. It’s the month our youngest son was born too. Add on top this year a very public celebrity pregnancy loss, and Covid, and a political circus, a distinct turn of the season that sent me reeling (more on that later), and a total career/lifestyle change I chose… there’s a lot swirling in my mind.
I could stuff it all, which never goes well, or I could take the time to sort through it, place it in its proper perspective, make some peace with what I can, and bow to the inevitability of the process. I can’t “skip” this part by hanging up scarecrows. Nor can I undo what’s been done in my life or engineer its future outcome. As hard as I try to play God, especially in the month of October, I'm (frustratingly) only human.
So where am I supposed to start?
So I’ve been a little quiet here on the blog and on social media, because it’s hard to know where to start. (That and: I burned the $%&@ out of the heel of my hand pulling a 500* cast-iron skillet out of the oven. It hurts to type and write.)
Some struggles are best shared raw, real, unfiltered, because we only get through them with authenticity and the support of a loving community. One of the strange blessings that's come out of this pregnancy loss experience is the collection of women I'm grateful to connect with on a soul level. I've heard from many of them already this October. They - you - mean the world to me.
Yet while sorrow is lessened when shared in community, some pieces of our stories are better left shared once the hero has slayed the dragon. The play-by-play is messy and often too raw to share publicly.
I think we do a pretty good mix of raw authenticity and victory dancing here.
And right in the middle of all this swirling heart work, my sweet munchkin turns TWO today. He’s still new life. A wide-open road, a blank canvas, a fresh, brand new tiny person full of nothing but divinity and possibility.
Good stuff in, bad stuff out
So just for today, I don’t want to think about the afterlife or the in-between. I don’t want to think about werewolves and witches, or angels and demons, or heroes and dragons, or grief and the pain of pregnancy loss. I want to snuggle my tiny beefcake and kiss his dimples and be present for every waking moment of the unreasonably beautiful life we have right here. There’s enough scary stuff out there that will find us even when we’re not looking for it. So I’m not going to voluntarily invite any of it in.
All that scary can stay on the porch like G’s vampire. Politely waiting its turn to be dealt with. I will address it soon enough. But today I’m not opening the door.
I wish I could simplify October. I’d do it in a heartbeat. Maybe someday?
Happy birthday, sweet E. Thank you for reminding me daily that we serve a God who loves us more fiercely yet tenderly than we could ever truly understand in our human form, and who will look into our eyes one day to answer every single one of our questions with care.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the heartbreak and emotional/relational complexity of pregnancy loss, know you're not alone. There are many organizations and individuals who can help and provide a compassionate listening ear. I'm one of them. Just drop me a note here or over on our Facebook/IG communities @Heartfully Present.