Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Poignancy In Pumpkins ...

Yesterday, I carved a pumpkin.

My friends Sheila and Jeremy and little Baby Jay invited a slew of family and friends over to carve pumpkins in honor of their daughter and sister, Donna, who passed away on that date the year before.

Last year, friends and neighbors began bringing pumpkins to the parkway in front of Donna's house. Five pumpkins spelled out "Donna," a letter each. Other pumpkins were decorated. Others were carved. But at night, the pumpkins that could be lit were lit, and they flickered and glowed in the autumn chill. I went to see them, intending to add a pumpkin to the patch. But I couldn't find the right pumpkin. I had a very specific pumpkin in mind for Donna and no other pumpkin would do. So I went, pumpkinless, but to see the others and to stand outside their home for a moment and send them my love.

Last night, to honor their girl, Sheila and Jeremy invited us to carve, to eat, and to be.

With the help of adults, many children put their stamps on their pumpkins, some scary, some silly, some with more than one nose. I chose a squatty little pumpkin and opted for a very old-school face: triangles for eyes, a jagged grin. It made me happy.

The pumpkin carving, very smartly, happened outside. Inside, Sheila and Jeremy served Donna's favorite mac and cheese, along with other pasta and an endless array of treats, including cookies covered in sprinkles that were a big hit with the kids. Sprinkles are always a slam dunk. One little girl had squirreled some away in her mom's coat pocket. When she asked for a cookie and her mom reached for the stash, the little girl said, "Mom ... those are for the road." Sheila told that story after most everyone had left. We laughed.

Around 7, when folks had begun to gather their things, we all headed outside to transport the pumpkins from the carving station to the parkway and set about lighting tealight candles to make them glow.

As the last candles were lit, Sheila told us that before Donna died, she gave a little concert for her parents, singing "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star," "I'm A Little Teapot," and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and Sheila wondered if we'd mind singing, too. So, of course, we did.

It was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life: family and friends of every age, from babies to grandparents, surrounding a flickering pumpkin patch dedicated to Donna, and singing the sweet songs she had sung.

And it reminded me, so starkly, that all that truly matters is being there for each other. Nothing was more important to me last night than being with my friends, being of what help I could be in practical ways, all the while knowing that what mattered to them most was simply that we were there, together.

Be there for someone. Carve a pumpkin. Light a candle. Hug a friend.


Blogger Sheila said...

I'm in tears reading this. Thank you, Beth. And nary a mention of your brownie donation. So happy we've reconnected.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I was in tears writing it, my friend. And am so again.

I'm so happy we've reconnected, too.

And no, nary a mention of my brownie donation. Until your comment, anyway. :o ) So glad you enjoyed them and/or are still enjoying them. I figured it was best to make a double batch. More chocolate is always better.

1:46 PM  

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