Wednesday, November 01, 2006

now it's the first of November

It rained on the trick or treaters last night. The added impedence of the rain (slogging through puddles on the sidewalk, tottering underneath umbrellas) gave everyone a sort of stumbling appearance, but also a determined, purposeful one -- we will enjoy this, or else.

And after some time the trick-or-treaters (slicked and dampened down with raindrops, their costumes gleaming in the porch black lights) even seemed to take on an extra layer of gloss -- brilliant, reveling, indomitable.

"Happy Halloween, Mrs. Dude," a round-faced boy in a football uniform shouted out joyfully, pocketing three pieces of candy. I laughed and laughed. Mrs. Dude. That's a new one.

The teenager handed out candy and I sat beside the big tin bucket, just watching (and eating bite-size Almond Joys out of it as he scolded: "Don't! Those are for the kids!").

I watched him distribute the candy to each trick or treater. It was, in a way, like we'd just met. I can't explain why -- he's just gotten so much older, somehow. It sounds so cliche, but it really was just like yesterday when he was an infant in my arms. Sometimes it's like a trick of light -- you look again and the child's grown. I don't know how it happens. I really don't.

He caught me looking at him. "What? What?"

"Nothing...." I paused, hesitant to elaborate (anticipating his embarassed response). "I was just thinking about when you were a baby."

"Oh, great." He rolled his eyes and exhaled upward, all at the same time. "Another one of your mom stories."

"No...." I looked away. "I'll spare you, just this once. Because it's a holiday," I tried to joke.

"Good," I heard him say under his breath, digging into the bucket for a Hershey's bar and a Kit Kat (at least he listened to me when I told him not to give M & M's or Milk Duds to the smaller children, because they might choke on it).

This morning no one wanted to get up for school. Too much trick or treating the night before; too much fun and excitement. They all protested: "Five more minutes!" It seemed they all left the house more or less crossly, without looking backward. I was sitting at the kitchen table, immersed in my own thoughts: last night after the children went to bed, I'd gotten out my New Living translation of the Bible and read the different accounts by the apostles of Jesus' crucifixion. Just to compare and contrast.

I don't know why, really. It just seemed to me, all of a sudden, like I always skip over those chapters and it would be a good time to really read them all the way through. I felt struck by the way everyone denied him at the end: how they insisted, when Jesus told them he'd be betrayed, that they wouldn't deny him, especially Peter, and then in the next verse, Peter does it almost instantly. You'd think, after witnessing all the miracles they'd seen him perform, the faith and the loyalty would be unshakable. Yet when questioned, he was so easily surrendered. And yet, how magnificently Jesus surrendered to the persecution: how he said only, "Forgive them; they know not what they do." It made me want to weep.

I sat there at the table over my mug of decaf coffee. My teenager kissed me on the cheek and went out the door. I think I said, "Have a good day, honey," and "Try hard; do your best" ; what I always say. Then I went back to my thoughts until the dog barked and I realized I hadn't really said goodbye properly; I should have said what I wanted to say last night: "I love you," or "I'm so glad you're my son; I'm so proud of you" and I didn't.

Daydreamer! Where is my head? I got up from the table and rushed out the door to catch him before he got on the bus, but outside the porch and the street and the bus stop were all empty, silent, painfully vacant: he'd long gone.

I stood there alone, looking around feeling foolish, and noticed the already-dated Halloween decorations dangling in the wind. And once again, I'd somehow managed to miss it.