Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Halloween

I have always had a strange relationship with Halloween. When I was around 18 months old my mother dressed me up as a clown. I saw myself in the mirror and scared myself. That's probably where it started. Never liked clowns. Never liked Halloween.

Then Stephen King's "It" came out as a movie when I was 11 or 12 and that pretty much sealed the deal. Scary clown, which I already equated to Halloween, and my fate as a Halloween-hater was set in stone. While other kids would go out trick or treating, I was at home giving out candy, and even then I still wasn't a huge fan.

I've just never been one who likes to be scared. There is enough in the real world to be scared about, I've never found the need for it as entertainment. So I've always looked at this time of the year as a 'necessary evil' to get to Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of this change four years ago.

On October 30, 2010, a dear church member and friend named Linda was on her death bed. She had been battling ovarian cancer for about three years. Living a very private life, she had been single all her life. With only a single sister who lived up north, Linda had a few people in her life that she had 'adopted' as her family, but even then only on her terms. It was just her way.   Quiet, strong, proud, and private. 

Thankfully, she had agreed to spend the previous Christmas day with us, the first she hadn't spent by herself in many years. At the time, we couldn't have known it would be her last. She had only chosen to tell a handful of people about her cancer. It was how she wanted it. So I was called to her death bed mid-afternoon, the day before Halloween, a day she knew that I hated. 

I came in, she smiled, shifted in the hospital bed to get comfortable, asked one question of me. 
"What will it be like?" There didn't need to be an explanation or a greeting. We both knew what she was talking about. I'm not even sure what I said, something about it being better than we could ever hope for. And with that she closed her eyes, never to open them again. I would spend the night in her room with her sister, not as her pastor, but as her friend. She held on for a few hours more, moving on to the Kingdom Eternal around 2am on Halloween 2010. I've joked before about it being her parting shot at me, giving me something to think about on Halloween that is different than the rest of the world.

Fast forward to the next year, October 30, 2011, and yet again, I found myself spending the night in the hospital. Only this time, we were welcoming new life into the world as we celebrated the birth of our daughter Gloria Blaine. As Megan went into labor earlier in the day, I remember thinking, "God, I don't want a Halloween baby." Maybe it was more of a prayer than just a thought.

So over the course of two years, a time of the year that I had hated for the better part of 30 years was changed forever. It no longer is a time of dread or something to endure, but instead for me it is now a time to remember a life lived well and to celebrate the blessing that our daughter has brought and continues to bring into our lives.  

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