Death is a scary thing. But even more scary when you have lost a child and there are younger siblings left to here to live a life without their brother/sister. When someone we love dies, it hurts us. The absence leaves an enormous hole in our lives that will never truly be filled again. But just like when you skin your knee, the first intense pain will go away after a while. It takes time for your knee to heal, but it hurts less and less each day. It’s the same when somebody dies. That doesn’t mean we forget or stop missing people who died. After a while, we can go back to our lives, still loving them and remembering them always.
As Corban and I laid in bed the other night we were watching YouTube videos like we always do in the evenings. I decided to watch his sister Chloe’s performance of Adele again. I probably listen to it at least 3-4 times a week. It gives me chills each time and makes me so proud to hear her sing the way she does. Gosh, Myesha would have been so proud to be there that night and hear her sing and whoop and holler.
So as Corban and I snuggled up and watched it together, it happened. He asks, “Is Chloe going to die when she turns 18?” My heart sank, my chest tightened, a lump quickly grew in my throat and felt as though it could suffocate me. That scary, unknown question, that as parents we would like to lie and say, “Of course not.” But the reality is, I can’t say that anymore. Because I don’t know anymore. I don’t know how God will decide to have my life play out. I mean, what parent ever thinks their child will die before them, let alone tragically? That’s a thought no one wants to think about. But it’s reality. It can happen. It does happen.
“You know Corban. I can’t tell you that. It’s not up to me. That’s up to God and the plan he has for our lives. But I pray that God does not take Chloe from your life anytime soon. You are all each other has and I pray you live long lives together and always love and care for each other even after I’m gone to Heaven.”
Today as I am driving him to school another question comes to his mind. “Mom can we celebrate Day of the Dead instead of Halloween?” “Why?” I asked. “Because we already celebrate Myesha with a balloon release every year, and since I don’t want to go trick or treating anymore we could have another time to celebrate her.” he said. “That’s a wonderful idea!” I told him.
Day of the Dead, also known as Dia de los Muertos, is a holiday for remembering and honoring those who have passed. It is a festive, joyous time of celebration. Traditionally, November 1 is the day for honoring dead children and infants. There are many ways to celebrate but a common tradition is a family gathering telling stories of the ones who have passed and making sugar skulls. The days of the dead are truly a celebration of life. It’s a time where children learn to respect that life is brief, they learn there is a circle to life and to not fear death and then are free to enjoy and appreciate every moment. During the days of the Dead, some believe that the souls of the departed return to earth to visit with and to provide council or give advice to family and loved ones. It all makes since to me.
Halloween was Myesha’s favorite holiday. She loved to decorate the house and carve pumpkins. Of course it wouldn’t be the same without gathering up her friends and heading off to a haunted corn maize or house. Of course, there was also the candy!! But since her death, I just can’t find it in my heart to pull out that orange Rubbermaid bin of decorations or even think about carving a pumpkin without her right now. So Corban’s idea is nothing short of brilliant. We have already changed all of our normal holiday traditions to get through life without her, why not find a way to get through what was her favorite holiday too.
So on Monday night we will be celebrating by making sugar skulls and telling stories about Myesha instead of a traditional Halloween. We will have a shrimp boil, again her favorite, and begin yet another new tradition in her honor. For the first time in 2 years, I’m actually excited about this holiday instead of dreading like I have been all month.
So what has my son taught me in all of his childhood innocence? That if I’m going to die someday, what should I do now? That answer is, LIVE!! There are many things about death we do not know and may never know. We do know that it will happen, someday, to all of us. But you should not worry or wonder about it for very long. There are too many wonderful things to experience in the many, many years ahead. Don’t be afraid to make your own traditions and create new memories that can still honor your child that has passed.