Something Wicked This Way Comes
“Don’t let them drink your tears and want more! Will! Don’t let them take your crying, turn it upside down and use it for their own smile! I’ll be dammed if death wears my sadness for glad rags. Don’t feed them one damn thing, Willy, loosen your bones! Breathe!” Something Wicked This Way Comes, p. 310
Halloween has always been one of my favorite traditions. I’m not even into the really spooky stuff. I like the fun and pageantry of it all. When I was a girl our family didn’t do anything elaborate but my parents would always decorate our house with pumpkins, dried corn cobs, and spider webs. My mom would make “Hollow-weenies” (hotdogs with cheese inside, not something we would eat regularly) plus Mac and cheese before we went trick-or-treating. Apple cider and powdered sugar donuts were dessert. My brother and I would get to stay up late, sort through our candy, and we were allowed to eat a piece or two before going to bed. Fairly mainstream American traditions. I love that my mom was as excited about it as we were. I always thought I would continue those traditions.
When Mr. Mister and I had Grasshopper I was so thrilled to share my excitement with him. Grasshopper’s first Halloween he was only 7 months old so we just passed out candy at our door. His second Halloween he was old enough to participate. Our neighborhood hosted a party and a costume contest. I created a paperboy costume. He didn’t understand what it was all about but he had fun with his friends. I took photos of him, of course. It wasn’t until after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes that I looked back at those photos with fresh eyes. They show a gaunt little paperboy with dark circles under his eyes, paper-white skin and thin, stick-like limbs. He was skeletal. It is difficult to look at now because it is so hard not to think, “How did I not see that? Why didn’t I know then? Why did it take me two more months to begin to seriously ask questions about his health?” It is a painful, treacherous and dark tunnel of thought. I am supposed to protect my children. If I can’t even recognize when they are in danger then how can I possibly protect them?
“Will!” His father savagely jabbed a finger at him and at Jim. “Damn it, Willie, all this, all these, Mr. Dark and his sort, they like crying… they love tears!… The more you bawl, the more they drink the salt off your chin. Wail and they suck your breath like cats. Get up! Get off your knees, damn it! Jump around! Hoop and holler! You’re here! Shout, Will, sing, but most of all laugh, you got that, laugh!”
“You must! It’s all we got. I know! In the library! The witch ran… how she ran! I shot her dead with it! A single smile, Willy, the night people can’t stand it. The sun’s there. They hate the sun. We can’t take them seriously, Will!” p308
I haven’t felt much like decorating for Halloween since Grasshopper’s diagnosis. My son was dying in front of my eyes and I didn’t even know it. I don’t have a stomach for horror. I’ve had enough of it in real life. But finally this year I feel more present, able to do and decorate and enjoy. I feel like I’ve been lost in a mirror maze in the dark with my eyelids sewn shut and sand in my ears. I’ve been underwater, in the dark and I’m finally coming up for a breath.
When I was about 10 or so I discovered Ray Bradbury’s book “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Reading it became my own personal October tradition. From his musings on friendship to the battle between good and evil, the fantasy of it, and the way in which Bradbury knits words together, all of it made a powerful impression on me. I checked that tattered copy out of our town library so often that I felt like it was mine. The library card in the back held dates connected to me. The cellophane dust jacket on the hardback was shattered and crinkled like autumn leaves under my fingers. The edges of the pages were worn puppy ear soft and it smelled like an old book shop. Once for Christmas I asked for my own copy. My parents obliged and gave me a slick paperback. I honestly didn’t realize until I unwrapped it that while I had asked for A copy of the book, I had wanted THE copy, MY copy, which somehow made the story contained inside more exciting. A few days later my Dad bought a new copy and exchanged it at the library for MY copy. It was a good deal for them- they got a fresh new book- and I was beside myself. Most of all what made it so special was my dad understood my love of this old copy.
“They didn’t even say ‘Hello, Jim’ or ‘Join the dance,’ they just put out hands as if he had fallen from their swung pandemonium commotion and needed a boost back into the swarm. They yanked Jim. Jim flew. Jim came down dancing. And Will knew, hand in hand, hot palm to palm, they had truly yelled, sung, gladly shouted the live blood back. They had slung Jim like the newborn, knocked his lungs, slapped his back, shocked joyous breath to where it made room.” p312
Laughter, joy, is POWERFUL. It is a gift. It can overcome fear and darkness. Some people in my life have the gift of shouting down the fear and dark. They size up the situation and skewer it deftly, pinning it to the wall. My father had that ability. My brother has it too, as well as my husband, Mr. Mister. Alese and several of my friends have it and I deeply admire them for it. I don’t have it. If you want someone who will make you laugh at your problems, I can direct you to other folks who can dissect the issue with scalpel sharp wit, turn it on its side and study the situation in a different light. But that is not my strength. What I can do is sit with you in the darkness, listen to your story and let you know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And having someone with you in the dark can be the beginning to finding your way to light.