it was a year ago today that Keith spent his first night in a hospital. Halloween rolled around as usual and this holiday that he always embraced was met with an eerie silence last year. We decided to hide in the sunroom from the trick-or-treaters. Keeping all the lights off, even in our hideout, Keith shivered in the dark under his winter coat. He couldn’t warm up and after a check of his temperature, it became obvious why. He was running a temperature of 104. Off we went to the ER and he was admitted shortly after midnight. In the dark of the room with him shivering on the couch I felt for the first time a true feeling of dread that all those horror movies I love to watch couldn’t quite match.
This Halloween, I marched down to the local Target and blew $75.00 on candy in every shape and flavor in true Keith style. I used to give him so much grief about buying all that candy so he put me in charge of buying and handing out treats one year. It was met with disaster. I ran out in 20 minutes, started raiding the pantry for the granola bars, then started handing out nickles, until finally I had no choice but to turn off the porch light and admit defeat – 45 minutes into trick-or-treating. The whole time Keith hung out in the office, laughing at my predicament and telling me “I told you so”.
A good friend of my son recently choose to take her own life. He’s reeling from the shock and I don’t know how to make it any better for him. He decided to skip Halloween all together this year. I liken it to my announcement in January that I’m canceling Christmas. We all set sail into life. We are all Captains of our own ship. What makes some of us send an ax into our own hull while others fight the oncoming storm? I don’t know. I do know that we can only go down with our own ship. We can throw the life ring to others but they still have to choose to cling to it, and even then we may find ourselves watching as they slowly lose their grip, slip away from us into the dark depths where we can not follow.
After the last trick-or-treater left last night, and I had turned off the porch light, I stepped into the dark sunroom. TV on, electric fireplace going, my mom sitting on the couch just as Keith had a year ago. I had eaten entirely too much candy and couldn’t sit still. I especially couldn’t sit still in that room, remembering how I put his shoes on, zipped up his coat, and coaxed him to the car. I had throw the life ring, and he hung on with every ounce of strength he could muster but it wasn’t enough. So I went outside and just stood there. After hurricane Sandy had rolled through, there was a quiet hush to the air. We weathered the storm like champs and I keep on sailing. Keith did a good job of training me to survive on my own – at least in the Halloween candy department.