This coming week marks the end of October, this is and has always been my favourite and most precious time of year. There isn’t a time I don’t recall having a love affinity for all things Halloween. Maybe it was the fact I felt different as a kid and being able to show this off in the form of costumes and ghouls felt natural to me. It might also have been the fascination I hold for all things dark, macabre, fantastical with a shimmer of fiction and imagination thrown into the mix. And who can say they didn’t watch Hocus Pocus and want to be a Sanderson sister or Charmed even, and want to be a Halliwell sister beholding the Power of Three?
For some, Halloween is nonsense, a party trick invented by American candy companies to bribe more families out of coin for the sake of an extra holiday celebration. To some incentive, I see their point, but what national holiday or religious celebration isn’t pampered with a wealth of material goods in the hope of increasing profits? And anyone who bypasses the opportunity for a bit of harmless fun is a bit of a prude in my opinion. But then, I am overly protective of Halloween so I would say that.
Traditionally, Halloween marks a time to remember and respect our ancestors and precious loved ones who may or may not have recently passed. More than ever this year I feel it provides me with comfort and warmth having been given the opportunity to increase my self care by reading books infront of the coal fire on a cool Autumn evening but to also be surrounded be a wealth of opportunity in which I can mark the passing of my Father. To think it is nearly November fills me with mixed emotions. Relief that I’ve survived the time that has passed, but also anxiety that it is all slipping away from me and I feel I have done nothing but barely keep my head above water.
In my last post I mentioned about having a bit of a reawakening in the form of hearing and having the wonderful opportunity to meet Cathy Rentzenbrink. A woman I quite proudly reclaim as being my spirit animal. She was warm, funny but honest and willing to speak openly about her troubled, dark and upsetting past. It fills me with courage that in time I can do the same.
This weekend I finally sat and properly paid attention to her most recent published works, A Manual for Heartache. Some may lift their noses at the thought of having to deal with this inevitable emotion, but for me anything that can help me through this tremendous grief can only be a blessing. The more I read, the more I felt as if Cathy had delved into my mind and pulled out a string of thoughts and laid them to paper. I cannot say there wasn’t anything I didn’t agree with. The rollercoaster that is grief and heartbreak, the way in which to handle our own demons and to acknowledge that it is better to befriend our depression than to fight it and how time is not a healer. This last statement may feel a bit, unfair. In essence time passes, but for me it does not heal. I spent many years in which I hoped the passing of months and years would help me come to terms with losing friends or lovers. It didn’t wane until something bigger and more substantial in the form of losing my Dad over a long and distressing period, would take the crown and now be something I feel I can never let go of. But just like our monsters, it is something I have to learn to welcome into my world and to find ways in which to manage as each day passes.
I guess, the reason for this post is this. Should you read anything in your life, I urge you to take the time to cast your eyes over A Manual for Heartache. It may open your eyes, help you, or assist in finding a new kindness in your soul for those around you. And also, Halloween isn’t all harmless costumes, fancy dress and sugary sweets. It is a time for reflection and a time to honour those we have loved and lost. The closeness I have felt for this holiday my whole life now feels complete because it is providing a respite from the turmoil of grief.
Cathy, should you read this. As Twitter does not even begin to touch the word count of how I am truly in awe of your work. Thank you for sharing your own heartbreak, your grief and despair and for ultimately helping me find the magic in my everyday world. Just like you did with your son, I’ll be hunting high and low for my own magic wand and wishing for my own Patronus to appear when the storm clouds roll in. I’ll write letters to my future self just as you did, I’ll be sure to be a more kinder person to those who I cross paths with each day and I’ll keep in mind that every thought, every minute and every action should be thought of as if my own life were coming to its end and representing the best version of myself. Instead of fighting the irrational fears we find in the media or online, I’ll go back to living the life necessary to keep me going and to walk the new path on the other side of the paper that has been sliced in half. I’ll find comfort in each leaf falling from a tree, take time to feel the fresh air fill my lungs and smile at the simple memory of my Father when he would smile at me through his own pain. The fact I can read this book with your personal luck sent to me fills me with ambition and promise for the years ahead. In other words, thank you. Thank you for giving me the hope that I truly needed.