Halloween was always one of my favorite times of the year. We decorated our home with creepy little things that went go bump in the night hoping to add to the air of mystery already brewing through the neighborhood.
My husband, Wyatt, and I always had fun with the trick-or-treating little monsters that dared to ring our doorbell. If he answered, the children would get stories of poltergeists wandering the land on this very night looking for little children who ate too much candy! If I answered, I would kneel down with my black cauldron of goodies and let the children pick out as much candy as they wanted.
This year was different. This year, there would be no decorations. The little cauldron of candy had just enough treats inside to take care of those few children who dared to venture up to a darkened doorway. It wasn’t much of a celebration in our otherwise happy home.
Just two weeks earlier, I lost our first child. We had tried so hard for so long to have a child of our own, so when I finally became pregnant, we were overjoyed at such a blessing!
It wasn’t long before Wyatt began bringing home little trinkets suited for his son…a little baseball and bat…a little catcher’s mitt…a football.
“We are going to have the most tom-boyish little girl I’ve ever seen,” I laughed the evening he brought home a small basketball and pint-sized goal.
“What?” he so innocently asked. “Don’t little girls play sports, too?”
“Of course,” I replied, trying not to spill my second batch of brownie batter before I put the pan into the oven. “But, they also take ballet, tap, jazz, baton, piano…”
I heard Wyatt coming up behind me while I was closing the door on the oven. I grabbed a brownie, turned around, and shoved it into his mouth.
“New recipe I’m trying out for the Halloween bake sale at church. I’ve already finished the mini caramel apple galettes. If they do well, I may sell them at the bakery, too.”
That was all I remember about that night. I woke up the next morning in the hospital. My sweet husband slept by my side and had the terrible duty of telling me that I had miscarried the night before, right there in our kitchen baking brownies and galettes for a church Fall Festival bake sale.
He leaned in and took my hand before he broke the news, but somehow I already knew.
“This wasn’t our baby,” he whispered. “Our baby is still on its way, and we’ll be here waiting.”
As much love as there was between Wyatt and me, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t give him the child he wanted so desperately.
Before I came home from the hospital, Wyatt removed all the Halloween decorations, putting everything into storage for another year. But, he couldn’t stop the sounds of the trick-or-treating children laughing with their friends and parents as they made their way door to door in our cozy little cul-de-sac.
We got home early from the hospital, and Wyatt helped me upstairs to our bedroom. I was exhausted just from the drive home, or maybe it was from walking up the stairs, or maybe it was just from the weight of the disappointment I was carrying around with me. I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The sounds of laughing children woke me, and I sat up on the edge of the bed in the darkness. Listening. There’s no sweeter music than the sound of a happy child. As much as it broke my heart to listen, it also comforted me to hear the giggles of the children walking up to our door.
“This wasn’t our baby. Our baby is still on its way, and we’ll be here waiting.”
I could tell by looking out the bedroom window that the porch light wasn’t lit, the universal signal on Halloween to stay away. But, these children were coming up the driveway anyway.
I grabbed my sweater and walked downstairs. Each stair was a new adventure in pain and took a little longer than the previous one to maneuver. Just as I reached the bottom step, the doorbell rang.
Wyatt bolted out of the kitchen and saw me reaching for the cauldron of candy.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” I assured him. “I’ve got these munchkins.”
I opened the door and came face to face with a princess, a ballerina, a pirate and a ghost. Wyatt stood behind me and watched as each child grabbed a handful of candy and ran back to the street. He waived to the parents, signaling an all clear.
But, the little ghost just stood in the doorway before us. I looked back at Wyatt, who looked over my head to the street for any other adults waiting. No one. Nothing.
The white sheets with black eyes peering through holes of the costume gave no clue as to who the child was. He just stood there looking back at me. His costume was stained at the bottom with some purple goo that he probably picked up walking on the street with his parents, but he was alone now.
I held out the cauldron. “Would you like some candy?” The little ghost shook his head from side to side.
“Are you lost?” Wyatt asked. The little ghost nodded.
The more I looked into those eyes that peered out from the holes in the sheet, the more intrigued I became with this child.
“Wyatt? Do you remember what you were for Halloween when you were, oh, say five years old?”
“Yeah, I was a ghost like this little guy. I remember making my costume all by myself.”
Wyatt kneeled down beside me, and we reached out for the little ghost.
“That wasn’t your baby,” the little one said. “Your baby is still on its way, and you’ll need to be here waiting.”