I still remember vividly the first Halloween I had in America – the way Deck took a gleeful delight in initiating me into Northern American rites and traditions, his absolute giggles at my reaction to my first encounter to pumpkin snot in the first pumpkin I carved  back in the Florida house, our getting piles of candy and pouring it into a bowl and waiting for the kids to come around.

I remember a long-suffering daddy who came by dragging a little red wagon bearing two little girls wearing glittery wings and one of them stating, “I’m a FAIRY!” and the other one saying sulkily and immediately, “You’re a BUTTERFLY. I AM the fairy!” (and from the look on the dad’s face this was a conversation repeated at every house they stopped by. It must have been a long night…) There were the three teenagers who came by and called me ma’am and complimented me on my pumpkin. There was the absolutely ADORABLE little Dracula who couldn’t have been more than maybe three or four years old, to whom I handed a piece of candy and he said very solemnly and gravely, “Sank you vewwy much.” It was fun. By the time we ran out of candy and switched off the light by the front door we’d had a parade of kids in some absolutely astounding costumes and it was a rite of passage for me. Trick or treat  – it’s a very NorAm thing, and I’d maybe seen it in a movie or two before, never had it happen “live”. Showing me his world was part of the way my then almost brand new husband was showing me he loved me.

When we moved out here to the heavily wooded neighborhood without sidewalks that we ended up in, we actually did the trick or treat thing for a couple of years but we had a handful of kids stopping by and after the first two or three years even that dried up. The at-the-door trick-or-treat visitations vanished – and the littles, like that precious tiny Florida wompire (it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that he is in his twenties now…) never came by here anyway. This just isn’t the kind of neighborhood where it’s safe to wander around in the dark and there are no sidewalks and no streetlights and it just isn’t the right setting. So we shut off the outside light and we hunkered down on Halloween nights. I did carve pumpkins for a few years more but even that kind of petered out after a couple of years.The tradition faded away.

It was dark and wet out there tonight and I don’t suppose that anyone would have come anyway.  I might have wished for a tiny Dracula to land on my doorstep, and I could have given him a piece of candy, and oh, there used to be love wrapped around me when those little fake pointy teeth smiled at me from above a held-out candy bag, there was somebody right behind me wearing a goofy grin and delighted at my delight, someone who took such pleasure at my tiny joys. But today is All Hallows Eve and the veil between worlds is supposed to be thin.I might have hoped even more ferociously that the doorbell might ring and I would open it and that smile would be before me again, in spirit at least, and oh it would have been a cruel trick indeed because he would have faded away again but for a moment there it would have been a treat, such a treat, such a joy – where are the ghosts that you WANT to have haunt you…?

Where are you, love? Are you still you, out there somewhere, tonight, beyond the veil? I wish you would come and say hello…