Happy Halloween. Happy Hollows Eve. From ancient traditions and beliefs, to modern day trick-or-treating, and other festivities, it is a time that is celebrated by so many. Though the celebrations may vary, the underlying theme is that we are remembering and honoring our dead. In many cultures, they honor their dead relatives by clearing and cleaning grave sites, leaving a feast of their favorite foods and drinks, or simply having them remembered in prayer services and Masses.
As I watched the children and some adults parading in their costumes, I am reminded of my children when they were little. My husband and I would dress up with them and take them trick-or-treating. We had as much fun as the children. My baby is now 18 and definitely way too old to go knocking door to door, so now we wait and welcome the children who knock on our door. I also have my grandson, which makes it exciting and fun all over again, watching my daughter and her husband get into the Halloween spirit.
It also stirs up memories of my oldest daughter, she loved anything that was fun and Halloween was no exception. I remember that year that she was going to a party and her and I made her costume. We found a large box, cut construction paper, and found black electric tape, and transformed her into a Rubik's Cube. I still laugh when I look at those pictures.
Amazing how events and occasions trigger our memories, remind us of what is missing. They are simply dates on a calendar but yet they hold so many memories. I started thinking about all the costumes we had created over the years, from teddy bears to princesses. From Raggedy Ann to witches, we always tried to make sure we didn't repeat a costume or idea. It was fun, we had a great time as a family, and we visited family and friends that we may not have seen in a while. It was all good.
Rachel would have been to a party or two by now, would be having a great time, fully enjoying the moment. As I think of her and her antics, I can't help but chuckle and smile, she would be having the time of her life, and I am sure she would have come up with some pretty amazing costume.
It is these memories and many more that help, it also reminds me that we enjoyed our family time, we valued what was important. Today at Mass our pastor shared a story during his homily, he told us of a man who knew he would be too busy to stop by his mother's and visit her on Mother's Day. So he went to a local flower shop and ordered flowers to be delivered to his mother. While he was waiting to pay for his order, a young boy had picked out some flowers and was trying to pay for them. The cashier told him he did not have enough. The little boy was getting ready to leave, when the man stopped him and paid for his flowers. After the man finished placing and paying for his order, he left. As he drove by the cemetery, he spotted the little boy, stopped the car, and asked what he was doing there. The little boy explained that his mother had died 5 years ago, he really missed her, and he always tried to bring her flowers for Mother's Day. Well now this grown man was moved by this little boy and his gesture, he hurried back to the florist, and asked if his order had already been delivered. They said no. 'I'll take them and deliver them myself," he said and he cancelled his plans and spent the entire day with his mother.
Of course it moved me to tears in church, but it also reminded me that as much as we try, sometimes we take for granted those closest to us. We forget to call, we don't have time to visit, or we think to ourselves, they know I love them. But we really know what is missing when they are gone. We realize that we didn't make that call, we didn't get the chance to visit, and yes they knew I loved them, but when was the last time they actually heard me say it. Then all of a sudden they are gone, and now we are left feeling guilty, with regrets for all those missed opportunities.
Yes, sometimes we are busy, and there are demands that need to be met, but a simple phone call, sometimes accomplishes so much. Before Rachel's death, I traveled often for business, so I would sometimes be gone for anywhere from 2-5 days. I would try to call home in the morning, I would call when I got a break, and I always called before everyone went to bed. It just made me feel closer to my family. Many a night I would cry after speaking to my husband and children, I missed them that much. It was not always easy, and sometimes I couldn't call, but I tried my best.
I watched all the parents who took the time today, to prepare the costumes and then take their children trick-or-treating. As I watched and smiled at some of the wonderful costumes, I wondered how many parents actually realized the memories they were creating. Memories of special times, fun times spent together as a family, focused on the most valuable people in their lives. These simple activities create a lasting impression on not only us, but our children as well. They remember all the little things we do for them, just like we remember what was done for us.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween, and I know that I and so many others, are not only thinking of their loved ones, but honoring them as well. We remember them always in very special ways, and think of them often. And like the sentiment that is etched on my daughter's grave stone, they are 'Always in Our Hearts.'
Blessings! and until we meet again.