Family Tradition

Last year, I started a new tradition, in a conscious/unconscious way with our Halloween pumpkins.

Several years ago, I began to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.  A pumpkin outside of our house is painted teal, to make kids with food allergies aware that our house has non-food treats.  I put a sign on our door about the Teal Pumpkin Project, to bring awareness to it, and have handed out Halloween pencils for years instead of candy.  The first year, I actually had teal paint and painted a pumpkin.  Last year, I was given some blue-ish pumpkins by my aunt so they served the purpose.

As I gathered my pumpkins together, the collection made me think of our family.  Four vibrant, orange pumpkins representing the four of us.  Two more withered blue pumpkins: my daughter Nelle that I had lost as Fall began to descend upon us, and the other pumpkin representing an unknown future (at the time) of trying again.  I remember looking at those pumpkins with tears and hope, thinking that our family would one day be six: parents, three children, and my lost baby girl.  Now I look, and I see two lost baby girls.

Today, I was talking to Quentin about pumpkins for this year.  I told him that we would pick out four: one for each member of our family.  He said “We need six, because we need one for Penny and Libby.  Actually, we need seven, because we need one for Hurley.”  Hurley is our cat that ran away years ago.  Quentin wanted a pumpkin for the cat that was no longer with us.

I hesitated only for a minute before I said “If we are getting a pumpkin for Hurley, should we get a pumpkin for our babies too.”  Quentin did not hesitate: “Yes.  So we need seven plus two…. NINE!  We need nine pumpkins!”  It made my heart smile a little bit.  My boys can only honor their baby sisters if I keep reminding them that we had babies.  I have not been doing a very good job of that.  Nelle’s birthday came and went and while I wrapped into myself that weekend, and embraced my husband, I did nothing to remind my boys that it was their sister’s birthday.  That is on me.  Here is my first attempt to correct that.

As I thought about the pumpkins, what colors we could get, where we were going to put nine pumpkins, how to keep middle-schoolers from smashing them, Quentin said “When are we going to get another baby?”  Stop.  It had been so long since he asked that question.  Maybe that was why I had not talked much about Nelle or Iris, because it prompted other questions that I did not want to answer.  “I don’t know Quentin…. I’m not sure if we will have another baby or not.”  “A month?” he persisted “A year?”

“I just don’t know.”

We kept walking.  He continued to talk about babies and I pretended to listen.