Pumpkins to the Wall

Don King, Linda Tripp, Mr. Rogers, Stevie Wonder, the Droid robot, a posthumous Billy Mays, and a gorilla in a 70s thrift store suit.

Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays since [at least] college, and I’ve always gone pumpkins to the wall, if you will.

I’ve always thought it was the subtle touches that really make the costume. Don’s cane and the pillow stuffed under my shirt. Linda’s dress in a dry-cleaning bag and the tape recorder. Mr. Rogers’ puppet and the Sperrys. Stevie’s keyboard and minimal crustache. The tap lights for eyes on the Droid.

When it comes to costumage, I’m a bit obsessive, always looking for those perfect accoutrements that really complete the ensemble.

And while my love of All Hallow’s Eve hasn’t waned, since 2015, my costumes have taken sharp right turn. They’re headed in a direction that likely won’t change foreseeable future.

Winnie the Pooh, Super Grover, and Mr. Porter from Paw Patrol.

And now, while I’m still OCD over finding and creating the perfect look, it’s become more about Addie’s experience than my own desire to win best costume.

On her first Halloween in the NICU, we spent hours with scissors, felt, and the hot glue gun trying to perfect her Piglet look. The little things like the stripes on the diaper cover that would be his stomach and the surprised expression in the felt eyebrows.

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Her second was spent making sure Elmo’s eyes, nose, and mouth were perfectly placed in that signature Elmo, open-mouthed grin.

This year, her third Halloween, it was next level. Skye had a jetpack with wings, two custom-made felt Skye badges, and goggles fashioned out of felt and one of her many bows.

This year, her third Halloween, was also our first out in the world with her. The first two having been spent either in the NICU or in isolation because the holiday also happens to fall right smack in the middle of flu & RSV season.

This year, her third Halloween, was the first time we’d take her trick or treating. Watching her toddle house-to-house, saying ‘Trick or Treat’, taking pieces of candy, and innocently tossing them into the buckets of the other kids waiting in line. Hearing her say ‘I love you’ to every stair pumpkin, door ghost, and porch scarecrow she passed. Helping her struggle up the big concrete steps to the waiting coos of the candy-bearers that lived within.

And this year, her third Halloween, while she couldn’t eat any of the candy she was given, and while teal pumpkins were in short supply, my heart was full. As every future Halloween approaches, I’ll have the image in my head of her happily walking down the street, one trick or treat bag draped around each arm, jet pack wings bobbing up and down. Quite possibly the cutest thing you, or I have ever seen. And I live with this kid every day.  

That image, and everything that went into Halloween this year made me grateful that she’s continued to grow – continued to get stronger. And us being out with the other kids this year, really sent that feeling home. It felt normal. Like we were just any other family. Like everything we’ve gone through to get to this point is a distant memory.

I know it’s not. And I know we still have some ish left to put behind us, but for a few hours, it didn’t feel like that.

It’s exceedingly easy to take moments like these for granted. To just seem them as normal. But being normal isn’t always the norm. And for us, that’s been true.

From here on out, and until she’s old enough to carry on the tradition of a true Durfee Halloween, I’ll likely be finding myself in the land of colored felt and glue sticks. Of saving cardboard boxes, empty spray paint cans, and creative uses for wire ties.

From here on out, until she’s old enough to carry on the tradition of a true Durfee Halloween, I’ll likely be finding myself staring at her in her costume, filled up with joy.