true halloween confessions

I can’t believe I’m sitting here about to post to my blog, after more than three months since my last posting, during NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month. I have pledged to write around 1,667 words per day (about four pages) throughout November. I’m not writing a novel, or story, but working on my Kade writing. Will it be a Kade memoir? Will it be a Jenny memoir? Will it be something else? That remains to be seen. I’m sitting down and doing the writing (the most important part I’m told) and hoping it will reveal itself.

I’m actually meeting my daily goals. Perhaps the idea of posting to my blog during NaNoWriMo is not so outlandish after all, as I’m already doing the writing. Here’s a piece from today, fitting for the Halloween season:

True Halloween Confessions

I’m afraid to delve into writing about the topic of Halloween, as I am about a lot of topics. I think I’m afraid I won’t be able to remember all the Halloweens past. What he dressed up as, at what age. That I won’t be able to summon all the memories. A good mom should be able to bring them to mind, right?

I’m also afraid of the pain. Which is why I haven’t written yet about the day Kade died. Writing about the day he was born conjured tears. The hopes, the dreams, the promises of protection, the absolute falling in love. The ignorance that he would only live to be a teenager. That each day was a ticking clock, and I didn’t know.

Alongside the pain, I’m afraid of the remorse. That I didn’t do more. That we didn’t do more fun activities. That I was a busy single mom. That I missed out. (But if I missed out, who really missed out?) “You want to go trick-or-treating with Grant? Sure, have fun!”

Now that I identified some of my fears and vulnerabilities around writing about Halloween, I’ll dive right in with probably the biggest of my True Halloween Confessions.

I grounded Kade from trick-or-treating WITH HIS BEST FRIEND, BEAU. I could just sink into a hole right now thinking of that most harsh repercussion.

Kade and Beau were…active…at their after-school daycare called Adventure Club. Oh boy, please take this as a lesson not to threaten a consequence that you might have a real problem following through with.

Halloween fell on a school night. Kade had had some trouble at Adventure Club that week. I can barely get my fingers to type the letters to formulate the words: I told him that if he misbehaved that afternoon, he would not be able to go trick-or-treating with Beau that night (I’m sorry Kade, I’m sorry Kade, I’m sorry Kade). I remember approaching the director and hoping with all my might that she had a good report for me.

Nope. There were some poor choices made, I don’t remember what they were, but I do remember that they were topped off with the boys belligerently telling staff, “You can’t tell us what to do. We’re trick-or-treating together no matter what we do here. You can’t do anything about it,” or something along those lines.

I seriously felt like I had no choice. Though it broke my heart (and his—the tears!), I felt that to be a good mom I had to be consistent. I had to follow through. It was awful. I remember the phone call to Beau’s mom. I remember feeling horrible to disappoint not only Kade but his friend.

He and I trick-or-treated at Cherry Hills Church. We tried to make the best of it, but when I look at pictures of Blue Ninja Kade sitting alone on the haystack, I feel nauseous. Those chubby cheeks. Those big light-brown eyes, behind which, the idea of holidays, trick-or-treating, candy, and best friends meant more than we hardened adults cared to understand.

The straight smile of Kade’s senior picture hanging across the kitchen table from me doesn’t look like he’s holding it against me. I only wish he was here, paying me a visit this afternoon, maybe to ransack our post-Halloween candy abundance, so I could say I’m sorry in person. So he could give me a hard time and tell me how emotionally scarred he and Beau remain to this day. And then play-punch me with a silly self-conscious sound effect to show me I was ridiculous for feeling sad about it after all these years. Kade, it’s Halloween-time. Asher is watching a Casper movie for goodness sake. Can’t you at least come and haunt me or something?

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Halloween in Ft. Collins with his friend, Amber. I think he was four years old.

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twenty-two

It’s about time I post to He Wore Flannel. But I feel pretty behind. So much time has gone by, I don’t know where to start.

A lot’s happened since my last posting just after the New Year. Namely January, February, and most of March. There was Kade’s 22nd birthday, a visit from my parents, Asher’s first Disneyland experience, attending GriefShare, receiving a scholarship to a grief retreat coming up in April, starting to train for a 5K, and the advent of spring.

OK, I decided. I’ll write about Kade’s 22nd birthday on January 24th—the third since he’s been gone.

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They just keep rolling around without him. The years he was growing up went fast… and I guess still do. With his birthday and angel-versary evenly spaced out in the year I always have something super fun on the horizon to look forward to. Luckily what I planned for the first birthday without him worked so well that we put it on repeat. It’s nice not having to decide what to do.

The main event is a pizza party for family and friends. The first two years we had it at a neighborhood pizza joint. Last year we felt cramped in the private room, there was a lot of waiting around for pies and refills, and it was hard to mingle among packed booths.

This year we reserved a wide open room at the rec center and ordered pizza in. It suited us much better. We could spread out our tables of pizza, pop, cake, canvas pictures of Kade I made to take home, and sky lanterns to write messages on.

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Asher

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Marni, Jenny, Laura, Leah

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making my decoupaged Kade canvases for party mementos

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Finished party favor: 6×6″ canvas with Kade’s photo decoupaged on it. I copied from his Calvin and Hobbes books and cut strips for the sides, also decoupaged on.

After ordering 22 purple sky lanterns, opening, assembling, and writing messages on them (Asher too!)… it was too windy to launch. We were so bummed! I gathered them up for another time. Which reminds me, we still need to do that. Maybe on his angel-versary in June. Or I might pick a time before then to get the kids together.

All three years I’ve also arranged volunteering around Kade’s birthday. Let’s just say it’s not as popular as pizza and sky lanterns. The first year we helped at Denver Dumb Friends League and the library, honoring Kade’s love of animals and books. Dumb Friends was more popular but unfortunately hasn’t had anything for our group the last two years. So the library it’s been. I’m very appreciative of friends who signed up, Angela, Leah, Draven and Nick!

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Jen & Angela

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Nick and Draven. Love the purple!

I got to chat a little about volunteering with Kade’s friends. Planting a tree or picking up trash at a skate park seemed tolerable because they could bring their boards and have something fun to do after.

Although I look forward to celebrating my son on his birthday and can’t imagine not (in life or in death), I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief when it was over. I never had a CLUE of the impact of dates after losing someone close. Holidays, birthdays, angel-versaries, and a whole host of other times. Not a clue. Just the day before Kade died I reconnected with an old friend I used to work with. She said she couldn’t wait till June was over because that’s when her mom died. Never having an immediate member of my family like a son or mom suddenly gone, I didn’t have an inkling about what she was saying. I probably thought something like, “Why say a perfectly good month like June is ruined? Mind over matter,” or something along those lines.

Then, Bam!, boy did my life, and tune, change. I understand now. I don’t like it, but I get it. Like so much in the realm of grief, I hope the passage of time makes the dagger dates softer. The date itself is not only hard but sometimes even more so are the weeks and days leading up. I call them “crazy making.” I get a little nuts before

New Year’s
his birthday
St. Patrick’s Day (he loved Shamrock Shakes)
the coming of Spring (like now!)
Easter
Mother’s Day
my birthday
Father’s Day
his angel-versary
the Fourth of July
back-to-school time
Asher’s birthday
the coming of winter
Thanksgiving
and
the Dreaded Extended Christmas Madness Season
(why does it have to be so flashy and last so long?)

I can best describe the time leading up to dagger dates as PMS on steroids with gripping pain in my heart. Can I get a  Grief Midol?

Back to Kade’s birthday. I took care of myself by taking time to journal the night before, which I think helped release the pressure valve to my crazy. My parents in MI were going to be here for the birthday festivities but had to postpone because my mom was sick. It was nice that they wanted to be here for the day. It felt good to volunteer in Kade’s name, doing something good in our own neighborhood where Kade grew up, sporting our Kade buttons.

And Kade’s friends showed for his party, again. I wish I would have gotten more pictures. Their love for their buddy warms my heart. I got to look into the faces Kade knew so well… and loved so much.

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Kade’s best friend, Beau, and his girlfriend

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Torri and Drew

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Tyler, Asher, and Shay

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Draven, Nick, and Kenzie

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Shay, Chrissie, and Chrissie’s friend

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Happy 22nd, Kade