There are days when this new life feels so connected to past lives. Days when I swear I can feel the joy of all our loved ones radiating through from some other realm. Usually, it’s the days I let go of trying to make everything go right and perfect and remember to just live and have fun. In those moments I can feel their presence, and I can feel healing happening within the joy.
A few nights ago, we had our first Halloween party at the house. Me, my new partner Mike, and his daughter Shelby, now almost 12. Her mother loved Halloween, so it’s become a connection to their past life that we still celebrate in a huge way.
Shelby still talks about one amazing Halloween party they had when she was 5. Each of the past few years since I’ve met Mike and moved into their lives, I’ve listened to her recall the stories of that party with such fondness. And each year I’ve felt sad that I didn’t plan a party for Halloween.
This year was different though. A few weeks ago, I decided to finally have one... to create new memories that honor the old memories...
We invited a few of Shelby's best friends from school and decorated the whole house and garage up with spider webs and black light paint and skulls and potions. We made a playlist of Halloween music and got the fire pit going for grilling. We made spooky cookies and brownies, got some pumpkins for carving and the ole Ouija board and other board games out.
There was no doubt that the party was a hit with the kids. Watching them all in their costumes laughing wildly, I couldn’t help but feel the joy of every person we have lost… most especially, Mike’s wife Megan. There is nothing like the feeling of doing right by someone else’s loved one that has died. Nothing like the feeling of knowing that what you’ve done or created has honored them deeply. I thought about her a lot that night, and how happy she was to see her daughter making new joyful Halloween memories. For all the moments I doubt whether I’m doing well enough as her second mom, this was one that night that I know for certain, I did right.
Mike and I dressed up for the party too. We’re fortunate that Shelby is not quite old enough to be embarrassed horribly by us old people yet - and still loved to dress up together with us. We’ve been busy though and not able to make costumes, so our only costume choice was to dawn my old zombie costumes…. The ones that my fiance and I made together. Having sat in a box now for 7 or 8 years, it was surreal to pull them out and see them again for the first time since he died. Surprisingly, it was not sad or difficult for me. Instead, I felt all the happy memories of he and I dressing up as bloody, creepy undead characters and all the fun we had.
Mike was understandably uncomfortable putting on Drew's zombie costume. When he came out into the living room in it, his face looked unsure. I told him not to worry at all. I said, “We have to embrace the humor in it, that’s what he would want! And he would love the fact that we can tell people you’re wearing a dead guy’s undead costume!” Which is true, he would love that. Because he has a sick sense of humor like that. Especially if it made people uncomfortable. And so with that, we threw on some zombie makeup and I put on the bloody, muddy dress and for that night we were “The Buried Couple”.
It was surreal to be standing there in these same costumes from a past life, with another man. Not hard, not even bittersweet, just totally surreal. Like seeing pieces of a dream made real.
It’s those moments that I can tell just how far I’ve come in healing the wounds of grief though. It’s those moments when I know for certain that the man I’m now with is the right man for this chapter two. Because, if I can look at him, standing there, in the clothes of my first love and feel nothing no sadness, no strangeness, and only more love… I know it is right. He honors my old life, and I honor his. And together this is how we move forward… making new memories together with this new blended family we are, and honoring them as we go.