Last year fall was a horribly agonizing countdown to the reminder of the end of Perry's life. We struggled a lot, cried countless tears... all while feeling guilty that I wasn't happy (aren't you supposed to be happy when you are pregnant? I desperately wanted and needed to be and yet my world was still horribly incomplete.)
And this year I guess we are thrown back into the feeling that we are watching a movie where the end is horrible, but we can't shut it off. In odd ways, the memories of Perry come easier this time of year- finding his Halloween Costume at a second hand baby store, the pumpkin hat at the YMCA, the small first frown he gave me when I handed him to ladies at the YMCA, and it isn't all bad. In other ways it's horrible because the bad memories follow the good.
One of the good things we were looking to was taking Paiden to his first fall festival at Hilldale Baptist. My husband geared up to it and was actually excited about the little costumes for Paiden, down to the costume coat that was Perry's. We were planning on reusing, but turning it inside out from a Giraffee to a Koala. I actually could still smell the fabric softner and other scents on the inside... I hadn't washed it after Perry wore it the last/only Halloween.
To my husband, who missed that last/only fall festival, attending Paiden's first was incredibly important to him. And we wanted to experience it together, I made sure I had it off when I looked at the shift calendar.
Then came the news- the fall festival is gone, replaced by two outreach fall festivals in the community. We were all let down. We wanted the festival at our church in the same place. It made us feel closer to Perry to walk the same pavement as we did when he was alive. So I tried to be a sport and we bundled up to go to one of the locations. The first was in the projects- and we thought we spotted it at a field, but it was very small and there didn't seem to be any kids from outside the community. So we picked up and drove to Cunningham. But as we googled to find the location, we discovered it was billed as the school's fall festival. When we got there we drove around looking for a while to discover it was inside the school. The signs outside stated it was a school fall festival. We didn't feel welcome again, and left.
I'm a bit disheartened. My daughter saw the change and said "It's ok Mommy, we can go to the fall festival at the big brick building, you know the one where we said goodbye to Perry."
I wanted to cry. "Honey, the two fall festivals for the other kids replaced it." It saddened me to think that to my daughter the main church campus is important for two reasons (we go to the life center)- the fall festival and Perry's funeral. Now it is only the funeral aspect that remains.
I got to thinking (probably incorrectly?), that while I appreciate outreach, the fall festival was still community outreach and was one of the few threads that used to bind the church together. It drew a lot more children, most were not from our church (it drew a lot of kids from the apartment area my Mom lives)... but take that away and isn't it still worth it just for our kids? I get that Perry is in Heaven by God's grace- the little guy couldn't speak in a complete sentance and demand to get baptised. But I look at my daughter and I desperately want to see her make a conscious decision to accept Christ. Even in my moments of worst doubt, I have tried to keep from getting in the way of her forming a relationship with God. I tried to keep going to church even when I doubted God's love (I know, I know, I've been given so much Grace but try losing a child and tell me that you don't question God or at least examine your religion). I want Church to be a good thing and not just where you go to say goodbye. I want it to be a living comfort, a place that she wants to go to. I want her to have that security, know where she is going after she dies and not fear death. I want to see her progress in the normal way, I want to see her baptised. At the same time, I try really hard not to traumatize her into it as she knows that kids and babies can die. I want her to come to that gradual realization that she needs to ask Christ into her life as a child in any other family in our church might. And I want it to be her decision... not something that I force on her.
She believes she is going to heaven and she understands that there is a connection to Jesus (the baby in the manger). But the pieces don't always make sense together. It's a little like when she comes home from Chruch and recounts the Sunday School lesson- some things are misunderstood in that childlike understanding, and it takes time and exposure before clarity comes. But an important part of that approaching clarity is to be around people that do believe in God so that pieces have an oppurtunity to come together through people that she knows and trusts. I don't want her exposed to the scary side of Halloween that some adults prescribe to. I don't want Christianity to be mere insurance.
Our kids are still the missionfield. And as a parent I believe that we fail horribly if we are so busy that we forget our own child. And busy can be good things as well as the time wasters.
I'm just sad. Sad I don't have three kids here. Sad that I feel robbed of one first that is oddly more important now. Angry that an anniversary date is coming up that no parent should have to deal with.
When the weather turns cool and leaves drop, I think of Perry. When people place the plastic skeletons outside their houses or carve them into pumpkins I start thinking about death and what it has robbed from me like a thief in the night. I think about pumkins still on a porch as the ambulance pulls away without lights on.
So if I get moody, if I seem less forgiving than I should in the fall, is it any wonder?