Traditions are the events that give us joy throughout the year. They mark birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.  But in giving or partaking in these traditions, it is not the gifts or the parties that we long for,  but the feelings of happiness they bring to us.

Halloween evening has been my favorite Fall traditions as a parent because of the feeling of contentment it evokes in my soul.  I love watching my kiddos laugh and giggle as the run from house to house gathering candy and enjoying the enchantment of being whatever they wish to be in that moment.  It’s not the candy, or the party we have before trick-or-treating that brings me this feeling, but seeing the joy through my children’s experience.

Charlie’s love for Halloween was priceless.  He couldn’t wait for me to set out the tables before our party, lining up the chairs around the fire pit as Michael loaded it up with wood.  He anticipated his friends coming over from down the street and other neighborhoods in their “scary” costumes.  He used to say, “Mom I love Halloween because the scary things are just silly.. And shockelet (chocolate), I love shockelet (chocolate)” and he would just start giggling.  I loved experiencing Halloween through Charlie’s eyes.  Even in the depths of grief and loss I crave the feeling of warming contentment in the traditions Halloween brings. As the season approached this year, I have caught myself laughing and crying in the same moments, creating images and dialogue in my head about what Charlie would be doing and saying this Halloween night.

Then yesterday, as Ellie and I were discussing Halloween, in an eloquently two year old voice, she declared, “ My Charlie is going to be Superman in Heaven!” As I tried to hold back the tears, I looked at her and said, “ Yes, Ellie I think he will be Superman and even though we wish he was here with us, he will have the best time trick- or- treating there.”

I  think about him running around in that Superman costume and wonder if I can still cultivate that feeling of contentment I love so much as a parent even though Charlie is in heaven?  Can I feel the innocence and pure joy in the traditions of Halloween amidst depths of loss and grief?

The answer is… YES.

You see, Charlie is and always will be my son. I want so much for him to be here with us this Halloween, but that does not mean I can’t find a little glimmer of contentment and happiness in continuing those traditions that brought us so many wonderful memories. And in those glimmers I will find pieces of my sweet Charlie lighting the way.

While this Halloween evening will be difficult in so many ways, I ask prayerfully for…

God to give us STRENGTH, as we set out those tables and put in wood in the firepit, JOY in watching Ellie run from house to house collecting candy with her friends, and CONTENTMENT, imagining Charlie dressed as Superman smiling and giggling, as he looks down on us from Heaven.

Philippians 4:12  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.