Ghost Cathedrals

Halloween is theater, at its richest.  You don’t have to be a bona fide actor/actress to participate.  Anyone can join in, and become someone or something they would never entertain on another day or evening.  That’s why it’s such a great family event. 

We met Nat, Anna, and Ruby at Michael’s house tonight, before they went out to trick-or-treat.  We took pictures – Nat as Jack Skellington (yes, he shaved his head completely); Anna was an amazing Sally; and Ruby was the beautiful Pumpkin Fairy.  I was glad to see they had stuck with their plans to portray these particular characters. 

When Nat and Owen were little, they changed their minds so many times before the day arrived, that I was usually dizzy and frantic with the last minute costume changes.  But, how can you tell a child he or she can’t be the character for Halloween, that he or she has become most enamored with only since last Thursday?  Ya can’t, dahling…ya just can’t.  (Okay, that was me in character – must be read with a German/French/British accent – oh, just pick one, or think like me on Halloween, and combine them into a Marlene Dietrich/Grace Kelley/Lucille Ball anomaly, then laugh your ass off when you realize that you’ve portrayed none of them, but sounded ridiculous in your feable attempts.  And, no, Grace Kelley was not French, nor was Lucille Ball British, but you catch my drift, eh?  Oh, “eh” is Canadian for “rah-eet?”  John Candy (or his ghost) would be proud of me.)

Dave and I stopped by the store on our way home to pick up tonight’s groceries, and flowers to throw into the  River in Owen’s honor.  Two days ago when I was at the same store, they had tangerine-colored roses, and those that are so deep purple they look almost black.  My plan for 12 orange roses and one purple/black rose faded to shades of carnations and irises in an instant.  Too late, I guess.  Someone else must have needed my flowers for Halloween arrangements.  So, I found light orange carnations, and purple irises to replace my vision of which flowers should adorn the River for Owen’s first genuine night-of-the-dead Halloween.  I counted out 12 orange blossoms and one iris to make the bouquet.  The rest are here in our living room now, in a gold vase, on Owen’s altar.

We drove to the River Walk and strolled over to the railing by the River, just across from my bench.  (No, I don’t own the bench, it’s just where I sit when I go down there.)  We watched the River’s ebbing tide (it’s not really a river, it’s a tidal slough) in the evening’s downtown lights, and listened to the kids greeting each other with, “Happy Halloween” over and over.  I can’t tell you what I felt.  It would hurt too much.

With our 12 orange blossoms and our one iris, Dave and I threw the flowers into the River, each time saying, “Happy Halloween, Owen” and “I love you, Owen” and wanting so badly to hug him and feel his immense presence, to hear his laugh, to look into his shining eyes.  We looked into the River, instead.  The reflections from the downtown lights on the River’s surface, were nothing more than a faint remembrance of his warmth, his light.

We live in the spooky house on our street.  Our house is old, up a long gravel driveway, in the middle of a neighborhood of McMansions.  No sane child would venture up our path just for candy.  With enough whining, candy can be bought at the local store in the light of day.

Dave chose another way to celebrate Halloween, once he had started dinner, and lit a fire.  He took a bowl of candy out to the sidewalk, I followed with one of the pumpkins, and he set up shop by our mailbox , candle in tow.  He gave away candy until the bowl was empty, to the trick-or-treaters, and passing cars.  Thank god, he wasn’t run over.

In the years before Owen died, our home was our cathedral.  Our home was a place of importance, a place of authority, a place of spiritual seats occupied by our family members, all of whom participated in “the discussion”.  That discussion embodied the philosophies, the religions, the faith of our past experiences, and those we hoped to embrace in our futures.  Ghosts (quite simply, our friends and family who have gone before us) were always a part of the conversation.  We don’t fear them –  we talk to them, ask them questions, and embrace their enlightenment as our own.  We are so often satisfied with their responses, that we can’t imagine a fearful reply to their appearances. (Are we a little woo-woo here?  You betcha.  But, we get through our days better than most, so we’re going with it.)

Happy Freakin’ HallOWeEN, Owen.  I’m certain you loved being here tonight.  I’m certain you are still out there taking care of the lost little girls, making sure they make it home safely.  I’m also certain you are haunting those people who know what happened that night you went missing – hopefully playing your tricks on them, and laughing your all-too-knowing laugh.  You were always one to stare reality, honesty, in the face.  Stare, my son.  Stare until they crumble.  Then, pick them up and take them to a place where they can confess. 

We love you, Emmitt Owen Riley.  All of us are feeling your soul tonight, as you shine your light on the River, and into the far reaches of our ghost cathedral. 

Song for the night:  Moment of Peace, Gregorian

(Owen read more than most people his age, and loved the stories of fallen angels.  He also laughed at our myths, because we are so simple in our search.  Such a short distance between these chants, and those of our horror stories.  Odd, true, bewildering.)


~ by Linda on October 31, 2007.

2 Responses to “Ghost Cathedrals”

  1. Such rituals as the flowers on the river are a good thing, I think. Too seldom when we hurt, we can find no way to grieve through action. You are doing all you can do. Hang in there!

  2. The Ghost Cathedral, what a brilliant and beautiful description.
    If I was under 4 feet tall in a Halloween costume I would not venture up that long scary driveway either. How great is Dave to go down to the mailbox with candy!
    Orange roses-communication-mercury- in the river with a healing iris, lovely.
    Thank you for that.

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