The Pumpkin Shards of the Bad Halloween

The decorations still came on every night, mostly thanks to the timers.

September 30, 2023 —  What I've posted below is an article that I originally wrote for the 2022 OTIS Halloween Season that never happened. It's been sitting in a draft folder for the past year. Things were bad for me at the time I wrote it, much worse than I let on in this post, but I had no idea that in just a few months they would get even worse. Basically, below is me writing during a bad time about a previous and different bad time, and the worst times were still to come. I miss those earlier levels of sadness, though, when I thought I had hit bottom, not knowing how many bottoms I still had to go.

September 5, 2022 —  Last year I quit the OTIS Halloween Season for the first time in twelve years. My final post, about our visit to Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire, was on October 4. After that, I flew to Portugal for work for a few days, and on October 7 my brother killed himself. I didn’t post the rest of the season.

But even though I wasn’t posting about a public season, we still had to celebrate a personal one. For our kids. For our own comfort. Out of unbreakable habit. Out of desperate attempts at dredging normalcy from this abnormal season. I couldn’t just rip down all the decorations and cancel the holiday like Ray Bradbury did when Federico Fellini died.

There were good times in that awful October, sure. But, more often, I was just glad that Halloween is a season of masks.

The tendrils of that loss and sorrow still entwine themselves around me and this season like rotten pumpkin vines, and they might be inextricable. When my mother died in September 2016, I incorporated the anniversaries of her death into the season with an annual Gin and Boris thing, where we made a gin cocktail and watched an old Boris Karloff movie or two, just like we did during her funeral week. Looks like that party’s now a bigger one. My Halloween is slowly turning into Día de los Muertos.

Had my brother’s death not occurred, the photos from October that I’m posting here would all have been part of exuberant posts, and they would have been accompanied by many more October adventures.

Now they are the pumpkin shards of the bad Halloween.

Had I caught a hawk in my patio any other year,
I would have written a three-part epic about it on the blog.

Still had my youngest's October birthday to celebrate.

The OTIS Halloween Season was cancelled,
but not Halloween itself.