The kids are dressed up and smiling. Ready to go. Two big kids, one little. One missing.

The whole day has been disjointed. Well, the whole few weeks. Halloween was such a big holiday for us, celebrated for weeks ahead of time. Little fuzzy monster costumes, Snoopy and Woodstock. Much more than just a jaunt around the neighborhood for us. This year, we are doing the best we can, with the help of a few new friends, and old.

Staying strong when she is up at night, she has such vivid memories of last Halloween. We can’t get the decorations quite right, something is missing, and she needs to shout. Her grief is real. We struggle to keep going for her.

Halloween has arrived. The girls are posing for their picture. Ready to go!

And, finally, off we go. I’m standing at the bottom of the driveways this year. Last year, my youngest was two, needing me every step of the way, and now I’m trick or treating with an almost six year old. Off she goes, running down the street, straight up to the houses on her own. No need for me until it’s time to show off her treat. Her skeleton headband is bouncing along as she runs, and I am happy to see her joy.

We arrive at a house on a neighboring street. “Mommy, it’s a teacher from my preschool!” She welcomes our daughter with a big smile. It’s Rowan’s teacher. Well, the teacher that should be Rowan’s this year. My strength begins to dissolve.

A few houses down, a scary house. We need to go up to the door with the girls. Then, the houses of the men who used to greet us on our walk home from preschool. My strength is gone.
And in the dark, I cry. I know that it’s not that dark, I know that my friends, and maybe a few strangers can see. But something about the darkness gives me permission. Permission to grieve, openly, walking down the sidewalk.

The kids are still excited, and we head toward the spooky street. The street that we spent so much time on last year. The street where Rowan decided that he was done being carried. It is walking for him, from this day forward.

A familiar house, same decorations, same man, same costume. Everything is so familiar, and so different. The grief comes bursting forward, Dan and I hugging with tears flowing, in the middle of the street.
The house with the stones by the door. I remember what those the stones looked like up close, the inside of the house, a particular smell.. what was it? The house with the black steps. Me straddling those steps as Rowan proudly walked up them. I walk ahead and cry. Openly. Amongst all the trick-or-treaters, and it feels good.

Back at the house, I feel happy in the moment. Soliciting the neighbors to trick-or-treat at our house so the girls can give them candy. Dancing to the Time Warp with my daughter and a friend. Sucking on Rowan’s favorite lollipop.

A night that I was dreading, gave me permission to grieve. To enjoy my daughter, and openly cry for my son at the same time. A night that is all about hiding your identity, became a night that allowed me to show mine.




Copyright © rowansmile 2014. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author. (Rowan was killed at Rady Children’s Hospital as a direct result of the carefree and unnecessary use of general anesthesia for a “routine” outpatient diagnostic procedure. We believe that his doctors were grossly negligent because they 1. Openly ignored our repeated concerns for our son’s safety, 2. Lied about their knowledge of and attention to the risk to Rowan’s life, and 3. Ignored our repeated requests for the avoidance of anesthesia)