An online knitter who befriended me and likewise in return as of some time ago posted a question on Facebook: what is your favorite memory of Halloween?
We moved to California with a baby who turned one while we were living in a hotel for a month, waiting to be able to close on our house, a toddler who would turn three a few months later, and the oldest, who turned five on moving day. John would arrive a year later.
We had a neighbor who’d moved in about a year earlier herself after a divorce that it was clear she hadn’t expected nor wanted. Her kids were newly grown and suddenly there was just her now.
We went out of our way to say hi when we saw her. She was shy and tended to keep to herself, and of course she had her own life with a busy work schedule, but if we saw her we claimed her for a happy moment of waving and calling out to her as we went by.
It was probably our third Halloween here that our kids got a stomach virus. There would be no trick-or-treating. No costumes. No playing dressup. No sorting through the loot afterwards that’s more than their parents would want them to have.
I don’t remember if it was later that night or the next day, but our doorbell rang.
It was that neighbor.
She had gotten the usual snickers-type stuff for what few kids there were in the neighborhood at the time, but for ours, she had made the trek all the way to See’s Candies, where she’d bought a perfect little paper haunted house filled with very nice candies for each of our kids. Quite the gift. She had waited and waited in happy anticipation of the surprise, keeping them out of sight of anybody else who might knock…
…And our kids had not come. Something had to be wrong. So finally she came over to us, hoping everything was okay?
She was at last claiming us in return, cementing a friendship that has stood firm for a quarter century now. And this time of year every year I remember and am grateful–even, now that that part’s long over, for that bug. For what it made clear.
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