Michael Myers and My Shadows

I am hiding upstairs. Why? Because it’s Halloween and I have a maniacal dog who attacks the door every time the doorbell rings and, because, I hate Halloween. It’s true. Even as a kid, I desired the candy but did not like walking down dark streets looking at scary costumes that might just chase me. I did not want to ring doorbells and humiliate myself by saying “trick or treat” and then reacting when an adult would awkwardly say, “So, you’re a gypsy?”

Yes, I was always a gypsy because mom could put some necklaces on me, tie a scarf on my head, add a little make-up and, tah-dah, gypsy! I would mumble something, they would put candy in my pillow case, and we’d walk back into the deep dark sidewalk that was filled with goblins I might or might not know. When we’d finally get home safely, mom would make us dump our bounty and would take out anything that looked suspect. This was the age of the “razorblades in the apple” urban legend that all moms believed, and all dad’s used so they could eat half our candy.

This year, as I hide upstairs in the dark writing this, I’m challenging myself to see things differently.

Perhaps the shadow part of life is not all Michael Myers, donning a white mask and running after me with an ax. Perhaps it is something that allows me to go deep, following the sounds of my own heartbeat rather than the dings and rings of technology. Maybe darkness is a place where I can find the courage to face my scariest thoughts and try not to run.

I’ve had a few weeks of shadow time since my mom passed. Nighttime includes reliving what I could have done differently, missing her voice, and feeling badly because I only saw her in the light, when my mind was busy. I wish we would have had a sleepover, and gotten quiet, so we could hold hands and just be mother and daughter. I remember when I would have nightmares, and she’d come in and tell me it was just a dream. While I always thought that did absolutely nothing to make it less terrifying, I always felt better after her words blanketed me.

In the darkness of grief, I have stood by her casket with my hand on it trying to connect to her. I have probably worn a mask, much like the kids outside, but without the candy. I have traipsed through my routines with a little more trepidation, feeling as if something powerful was supposed to happen with her passing. Instead, things have been silent. A summer’s evening without the crickets. Just silence.

So, on this holiday of shadows and spirits, I am making friends with the shadows. Sitting in my office, with lights turned off like that old grouchy woman that every neighborhood has, I feel the darkness enveloping me like a cocoon, urging me to listen more to my soul. Reminding me that it is easy to grow in the light, but it is important to deepen our roots in the dark, rich soil of the shadow. It is in pain that we find our spiritual foundation.

For tonight, I’ll settle into the shadows, thank God for them, and let myself get quiet. I’ll take off any remaining masks and stare into the night. But if Michael Myers shows up I will lose my sh*t. Just an FYI.