We used to plan our outings around his fears. When Ethan was a very small boy, I could push the stroller as fast as my feet could carry us. We may have been nearly across the railroad tracks before he knew. As he grew older and his supernatural power of directionality kicked in full force, he was more keenly aware of the shadows where his fears were held captive. We would go only to the parks on our side of the train tracks, and we would save our trips downtown to the Confectionery for times when someone could be home to look after our boy.
The county home hosts a trick-or-treating event for children of the community on the evening before Halloween. We decided to take our children this year in hopes that we could soften their desire to spend hours on what was expected to be a blustery, rainy Saturday, on parade in pursuit of Laffy Taffy and candy corn. Our wide-eyed little ones were uncharacteristically quiet as they walked through the halls of the facility, extending their plastic pumpkins to yesterday’s princesses, clowns, and witches who offered shaky fists full of Skittles, M & M’s, and Smarties. I was told by more than one resident that my baby was too little for candy.
I am fearful of growing old.
We had been wondering the same thing as our eyes met over our soy lattes: how long have we been meeting like this? We deduced through memories of Christmas lists of years past that it must have been about fifteen years of the nearly three-decade span of our friendship. Yesterday, my college friend, Kim, and I had our annual ritual of meeting halfway between DeKalb and Madison on the first Saturday after Halloween. Our intentions of crossing off the holiday wish lists have, over the years, mixed gracefully with our yearly reflections of children, work, and dark chocolate. I leave home (with just a bit of guilt) to embark upon a day that truly feeds my soul. And we eat a lot, too. I don’t want the day to end. As I drove home yesterday, I wished that we had taken a picture together. It has been a couple of decades since we have done that. I think, too, that when we meet next time, we will both have passed the half century mark. We just never know what the year will bring.
Straight across the cornfields between Twombly Road and Lincoln Highway, looking from behind the Peter Rabbit crib sheet that serves as a makeshift curtain in my bedroom, I can see Rose’s farm. Of course, she doesn’t live there anymore, but I think of her each day as I look out my window. For all intents and purposes, Rose was my daughter’s counselor. She was, though, much more than that. I would look forward to our trips to her office, where I would breathe in the peace of her stone fountain, eat with abandon from her candy dishes (always stacked to the heavens with the best types of chocolate), and fancy myself having coffee with her on a lazy Saturday. We wanted to buy her farm, and we tried hard to do just that. Now, looking over the aftermath of a Midwest harvest from my window to hers, I am better able to see the big picture.
I used to fall asleep with the television on. Some nights, I go to bed earlier than Dan while he works on his music at the edge of the bed. When we lived at the edge of campus, I was secretly comforted by the din of college students playing music and hosting bonfires even into the early morning hours. The best part of baseball season is when the Cubs play on the west coast, and I can listen to the late night games on the radio as I drift off. I just don’t want the days to end.
Endings are hard. Though I wish the day could continue, I do try to remind myself of the promise that tomorrow holds.
Ethan rushed from his bus one day last week, brimming with excitement as he burst through the front door. With a new light in his eyes, he announced that he had walked across the railroad tracks with his class. Twice. And it was no big deal.
Next year, I will be sure to take that picture with Kim.