What I discovered in searching for the origins of the holiday is that in the Catholic Church, November 1 is All Saint's Day, and November 2 is All Soul's Day. Makes sense to me, and Wikipedia tells me the following:
Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Due to occurring shortly after Halloween, the Day of the Dead is sometimes thought to be a similar holiday, although the two actually have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating is common.So here it is Halloween and I'm thinking about my lost children. It's been such a long time ago that Stephen died, back in 1965, and he was only 13 months old. It was a life-changing event, because at the age of 22, I had no idea how to process the loss and became a lost soul myself. Chris was four years old at the time, and he basically lost his mother as well as his brother. It's a time that I rarely look back on. But for the Day of the Dead, I want to remember them. My strongest positive memory of that time is a day when Stephen and I played peekaboo on the bed, with him laughing in that strong baby way, his whole body convulsed with laughter, which of course made me laugh, too. We kept this up for hours, and it remains a strong visual and auditory memory.
I suppose it's normal that with the passage of time your memories begin to fade. I realized when thinking of writing this post that this has already begun to happen with Chris, too. He died in August 2002, now more than eight years ago, and the awful memories of those days of his sudden death have begun to fade, too. I wrote about it here, and I don't want to think of those days right now, but instead the person he was to me.
Chris had a lot of characteristics of his father, whom I had divorced not long after the death of Stephen. Many people know that the death of a child can be a catalyst to force the parents either closer to each other or apart. We didn't have a great marriage, much of which I attribute to our youth and inexperience. I think we would have made it if Stephen hadn't died. Those characteristic mannerisms of his father and ways of looking at the world that Chris displayed are now precious memories. Funny how something that annoyed me has now become something to make me smile with fond recollection.
Chris was really smart. He liked to make up new words that were similar to familiar sounding words and would amaze me with them. I can't today think of any particular ones, but I attribute that to my fading ability to recall them. One day when he was a kid of ten or twelve, I got a call from the school that he had arrived without his shoes. This was in Michigan in February! (After Chris would walk to school, I left for work.) He had ditched his shoes because he read that Indians didn't need them, and he wanted to see what it was like!
He had a great sense of humor, and I can still remember his infectious laugh, which makes me smile just to think of it. He was also a ladies' man, always coming to visit me as an adult with a different woman, and almost all of them had a small child. Chris always adopted these kids in his heart, and I think it was the loss of the relationship with the kids that hurt him the most when they broke up. He never married until he was in the Army, in Germany, and he married a German woman who had a young boy from a previous marriage. They were all very close when he died. Chris never fathered a child himself, and I've always wondered why.
My two sons are still alive in my heart, and Chris comes to visit me frequently in my dreams. I find that being around infants and especially babies around the age that Stephen was when he died fill a need that I still have. I am constantly amazed that the old adage about time healing all wounds is so often shown to me. There is no pain involved in the memories of either of my sons. I am sure that if I allowed myself to grieve for them, it would return, but what's the point? I want to remember them both with the love and devotion they deserve.
So that's what I'll do.