Driving home from work yesterday, I passed by a house completely decked out with Halloween decorations - gravestones in the front yard, skeletons hanging from the eaves, and bright orange lights around all the windows. My first thought when I drove past was, "Wow, jumping the gun much? They must just really love Halloween - I mean, it's only..." And then, as I tried to think of the date to point out (to myself) how early these people were in the decorating game, I realized it was already a week into October. Not sure how it happened, but October is undeniably upon us.
October, in my mind, is my dad's month. His birthday was (is? Do dead people still have birthdays?) October 12, and of course the month is squarely placed in football season, which always makes me think of Dad. But mostly, Halloween was always a Dad-holiday more than a Mom-holiday. I feel a little bad saying that, since my mom did significantly more work for the holiday than my dad did - Mom was the one who made sure we had the costumes we wanted, no matter how expensive or how labor-intensive, and Mom was the one who made sure we had candy to pass out to the other neighborhood kids. But Dad was the one who took us trick-or-treating, and that, for some reason, sticks with me more strongly.
Maybe it's because October was during football season, but having Dad take us out every Halloween felt so special. It was exciting precisely because we saw so little of him, and here was a special night with special candy treats and a special opportunity to see Dad. We usually took pillow-cases with us to collect our candy, and carried our flashlights to light our paths. Dad always wore one of his coaching jackets and walked his patented "I'm in a hurry everywhere I go" Dad-walk. We often had to run to keep up, but it was worth it for the time with Dad.
When we got home, we'd gleefully dump out our pillow-cases full of candy and sort them into piles: the ones we both hated and just wanted to get rid of, the ones we wanted to trade with each other (since my sister and I had different taste in candy), and the ones that we were going to gorge ourselves on as soon as possible because they were just that good. We never noticed at the time that Dad had been slowly eating away at our pile of "yucky candy" through the whole walk, and he would happily take our pile of unwanteds after the sorting at home. Because he was kind-hearted like that. Also he liked candy.
There is no forgetting Dad. Sometimes I try to forget, just to stop the pain. Sometimes I try to remember, because forgetting hurts even more. And sometimes, I just let it be, let the memories flow, like blood that washes the wound clean.