This Friday, my family and I will celebrate Pumpkin Day. It comes on the 21st of October every year and this is our 11th year celebrating. The kids are excited. We have decided on Pumpkin pie and pumpkin rolls. We will paint pumpkins this year instead of carving and happily set them on the porch for all our neighbors to see. It is a day of joy and love. I am so glad they look forward to it every year!
Now you won’t find Pumpkin Day on your calendar. It’s not a national holiday. It’s a birthday. Jason’s birthday. The day we celebrate the love he brought into this world and the love he left when he passed away.
When someone passes, the grief leaves a hole. That first year, my son and I were still reeling when I realized we were days away from what would have been my late husband’s 23rd birthday. His parents, in their infinite wisdom, knew that we both wanted to celebrate and remember him. But how do you do that with a small child that still asks for his dad daily, even months after passing? So his mom made arrangements for us to go to a farm and hunt pumpkins and pet animals. She knew that nature would help heal us and the distraction would help all of us cope with that day. We had a wonderful time making memories and recalling good times with a great man that was no longer with us.
I spoke to Xavier that day and told him if his dad was there, he would have loved it. And then we would have gone home and had cake or pie. My two year old heard the word “pie” and promptly demanded pumpkin pie for the night. And so he got pumpkin pie, complete with whip cream and a candle. As we blew out the candles, my son smiled and cheered. A tradition was born and it has stuck ever since.
In grief, we have found it critical to remember the love, hope and peace that are also left behind. Embracing a day to relive happy memories gives us the chance to do both. As a mother, it gives me peace to have his father in his life as a living memory. As a widow, it allows me a chance to embrace him once more; regardless of where my life has taken me. I hope that wherever you are in your mourning process, you find a way to embrace the good times as well. Maybe sharing our little tradition will sprout some ideas for you too.