Sure it meant trick-or-treating, and candy. And decorating the house — more as my mother collected stuff, once we stopped moving.
But it also meant that the dead were there to speak with. We believed this — at least I did. I don’t know who taught me this — and perhaps I absorbed it from one of the many books I inhaled as a child. But I vaguely recall talking about the ‘veil’ between the living and the dead parting on All Hallows’ Evening. Which I thought of as the Brits do: All Hallows’ E’en.
We weren’t Catholic, and there was no real ceremony about All Hallows. But I knew from Shakespeare that the dead walked that night. And I knew from other places — and who remembers what those sources were? — that you could talk to them, the dead.
I never tried. Everyone I loved was still alive, then. It didn’t seem like I would ever wish I could talk to the dead.
But now? This Hallowe’en I think of all my dead: my grandmothers, both beloved; my great-aunts, so many of them; my father, a dear friend, even a couple of dearly missed dogs. And I wish I could visit with them — especially my parents & my elders. I wish I could ask them more about their lives, about when they were my age, and how it was for them. I wish I knew what they knew before they left me.
I wish there were a way to hear their voices, my father’s deep baritone laughter– echoed in my younger son’s. My mother gabbing happily with her three sisters; my grandmothers in their kitchens, bossing me around.
This All Hallows’, I am grateful for the living. So very happy that there is a new generation trick-or-treating. But I wish, still, that I could let my dead know I still remember. And that for me, they are still here.