Bittersweet Halloween

We have missed Joe so much this Halloween! I tried to fight the grief and tell myself a lot of time had passed and focus on the bad times we shared together instead of the good ones, but it didn’t help. Much.

Four years ago this October, Joe proudly wore his Sarah Palin button and walked around shouting “HE CAN’T” at our annual Halloween party. If he were alive, I’m pretty sure he would be walking around our Halloween party yelling, “HE DIDN’T” this year. Cole wonders who his dad would have voted for in this election and wishes he could talk about politics with him. I tell him that I wish that too (not really, of course).

Cole left for school this morning dressed up as another kid in his high school. He wore dreadlocks and borrowed the other kid’s clothes. The other kid is Black, but Cole kept his white skin tone and told everyone he was white Isaac. He won a prize for the most original costume. When Cole was younger, he would come up with outrageous costumes for Joe and I to make for him. He never doubted that we could turn him into The Whole World or a Mighty Oak Tree. Joe and I agreed that kids introduce you to talents you never knew you had, and we tackled the costumes together. I would plan the costume and buy all the supplies, and Joe would sew and glitter it together. When we started to fight over the placement of the bird’s nest on the Might Oak Tree, our young sapling piped up beneath his leaf hat and reminded us that he was just a pretend oak tree. We laughed so hard and realized that we might be taking ourselves a little too seriously.

One of our lingering traditions was carving pumpkins, but this year Cole’s heart wasn’t into it—too many memories of gutting and carving them with his dad. I will never forget walking into the kitchen and witnessing my four year old with a butcher’s knife held above his head ready to plunge it into the pumpkin Joe was holding for him. Joe was explaining, with all seriousness, where he should make the first cut. I stood quietly watching, so in love with them both.

I handed out candy tonight while Cole went to an impromptu Halloween party. Scary stuff. Joe was a great worrywart; it’s such a shame he missed the teen years. I have always been a better reassurer than a worrier, but after Joe dropped dead in our shower, I found that worrying comes much more naturally to me now. I  poured myself a glass of old wine to sip and easy my nerves, but then I decided  I didn’t deserve to miss Joe, to worry and suffer old—not in a good way—wine, so I went back to Coke.

Imagine just played on the radio, the song we played at Joe’s memorial service, so I will take that as a sign that he is missing me or his martini shaker . . . or  perhaps both, although not necessarily in that order.

Halloween sucks without Joe. But on the upside, I have the whole candy bowl to myself.

24 thoughts on “Bittersweet Halloween

  1. You helped create (and have) beautiful memories. I love your candidness, Katybeth, and that you can still bring humor to the table.

    Love Cole’s costume choice this year….and the “pretend tree” statement to help the two of you keep perspective. 🙂

    Hugs and love for a wonderful lady. Enjoy that candy!

  2. Who knew I would start my day with a box of tissues. I smiled, cried, chuckled and then I cried some more. Thanks for sharing your memories of your wonderful family. As always so beautifully put. Much love <3

  3. Just lika Joann above, I too now start my day with a box of tissues, and also a big smile. I can totally feel your love and your big heart in this post. Here’s some corny comment from me, Joe didn’t really miss Cole’s teenage time. He’s watching both of you always. 🙂
    As I went with Tyra yesterday and handed out candy for little bit at home, I can’t help getting teary eyes thinking of my dad as well. I don’t have Halloween memory of my dad, but we talked about this and we have plan for him to come back for this to see Tyra’s birthday, to see halloween and how uniques of a holiday it is. I remember Tyra & I telling him about all the kids dressing up as whatever and I remember seeing his eyes grow bigger in excitement too just as Tyra got all excited… ah well.. I know he’s looking though.. I can feel in my heart that he stay near. I’m sure you feel Joe near as well. Love and Hugs for you Kb. 🙂

    • I’m sure your dad was very near and dear to your hearts on Hallow eve. Tyra’s “only” will have to come next year and eat double the candy.
      I do feel Joe watches over Cole and I but well during the teen years it’s not quiet the same as being here. 😀

  4. there is no timetable for the stages of grief & no rule that states a stage may not be revisited. i know you know this. don’t make the mistake i made & stuff feelings & emotions because it came back to me years later. don’t go there! having said that, you must move forward for cole’s sake & yours. you both have lives that need to be lived, but that does not mean you are forgetting the husband & dad. from what i can tell, you are succeeding at that. just a few thoughts from someone who knows of what she speaks in this area. keep your chin up, katybeth!

    • Thanks Irene. We talk about Joe a lot. I am surprised some time by how hard grief can hit just when you think you are over the hard part. The good news is our memories and time has helped a whole lot. Thanks for the very good advice from a personal perspective!

  5. You are a very strong woman and an amazing mother. I award you “the special person of the year”- award. Don’t know what it is yet, but it will come to me sometime. Anybody have any ideas?

  6. Ah, Katybeth, my heart aches for you and Cole — what a poignant story you’ve woven here. I love how you inject just the right touches of humor amid the bittersweet memories, and it almost feels like Joe comes alive on the screen. I won’t offer any advice — divorce isn’t the same thing as the death of a spouse — but just know I’m sending you a hug from afar!

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