Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hocus Pocus

Another Halloween has come and gone. This year was rather different for us. In the past, my most consistent memories tell me we’ve had five or six clumps of trick-or-treaters, since we live pretty far off the main drag. It’s either first thing in the evening when they come or at the very end of the night. My husband used to take the three kids through town while I stayed at home, handing out candy, preparing a warm dinner for the sugar warriors to eat before they really dove into their candy.

I liked looking at all the different costumes and the faces of the kids, some so small they could barely say “Trick or treat”, others, older, scampering through on a quest to fill their bags until they were too heavy to carry. I’ve watched my kids go through the same phases. Always cute, always eager, and with costumes of varying stability levels.

My husband was working late this time; his depression has so absorbed him that he forgot it was Halloween, he forgot I had an appointment for a follow-up mammogram, and he forgot that he usually takes the kids out trick-or-treating. I guess.

My daughter didn’t want to go out, she’s getting a little old for it, in her opinion (and sort of – sort of – in mine, too). So, Bunny and I stayed home, manning the fort for potential treat seekers. We wound up reading, listening to our tricky automatic jack-o-lantern haunt the breeze in front of our house, and talking. Most of the kids on our street are older now, like our own, and we had no trick-or-treaters at all this year.

Spawn wanted to go, but he’s getting older. Many of his friends are no longer in town, off celebrating Halloween in their college towns, getting sloshed (or not) and behaving badly (or not). Or, the ones remaining are having parties at home, for which they seldom dress up. There was a costume contest at his college, but it was a dud. He’s growing past the magic of the night.

Doodle wanted to go trick-or-treating, so Spawn went ahead and put on his sorcerer costume, loaned Doodle his warrior stuff, and off the two of them went. This was a change for them. In the past, they’ve been at odds most of the time, not getting along, not wanting to share the spotlight. This Halloween Doodle was Spawn’s ticket back into the fun and fever of the dark holiday night. When they came back, Spawn had an interesting look on his face. I asked how it went, and Spawn told me that Doodle’s bag had broken, so he had given him his own to use instead. He walked with him, in the role of parent or guardian, in his costume, and saw Halloween from a very different perspective. He still did a little trick-or-treating, but it was very different for him. He was quiet, but happy, as if he had grown a little.

Doodle was so pleased, not only by his haul of candy, but also by being treated as someone special by his older brother. They shared candy, something they’ve never done before. It was interesting, it was good, and, in some ways, it was a little melancholy for me. It surprised Bunny, who still has feelings of sibling rivalry for her older brother. Doodle just took it in stride, in his own wonderful way.

We ordered dinner in this time. Last year, we switched our fast food night to Tuesdays, relating to an aspect of the worst of my husband’s mid-life crisis at that time. So, we ordered Chinese food, which was still hot, since we ordered late, when the Warrior and Sorcerer came home.

My husband came home from the office earlier than we expected; his late appointment had not shown up, which happens a lot in the insurance business. It took him a moment or two to notice that there was a lit pumpkin on the table, a bucket of candy to be handed out, and that only Bunny and I were here. He was taken aback for a few seconds, realizing he’d missed what will probably be his last chance to take any of the kids out candy hunting. Maybe.

And I had had a scare of my own. When I went to get my follow-up mammogram, they took quite a few photos. I saw a lump/spot on the x-rays myself. They rushed them to the doctor, who then sent me over to ultrasound to get more views of the spot. When that happened, I picked up a pamphlet on what to do when you have breast cancer that was sitting there in a basket in the mammography room. I tried to keep positive – it doesn’t run in our family, but fluid-filled cysts do.

The ultrasound went on and on. And on. The technician took the results to the doctor ASAP, as I lay there, exposed and in the dark, wondering what the next step would be. When the tech came back and told me I could go ahead and get dressed, I asked her, as I wiped off the gel and pulled the gown around, if I should expect another call soon for additional procedures. I didn’t say “cancer” or “lump” or “prognosis”. She looked me in the eye and said “no, you probably won’t be getting another call any time soon” and we both knew that was good news.

It took about an hour for the adrenaline to leave my system so that I could feel calm and focus on my children the way I normally do. And my husband never asked, so I told him. The gap between us seemed very wide.

So, hocus-pocus. I’ve pulled another year of health out of the ether. Not the one I had unconsciously expected, but, my hub’s depression aside, one I can deal with nevertheless. Life goes on, with magic in different places.

No comments: