Sentimental About Skeletons

Halloween – The dark and twisted time of year when blood and gore rules. When snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies are considered festive holiday décor. When monsters, goblins, zombies and more stalk the streets in the name of fun.

I’ve never given much thought to haunted houses, walking dead or other traditional scary Halloween staples. Until last week when my 4-year-old started sobbing over a skeleton – a skeleton that reminded him of his deceased little brother.

I was making 3D paper coffins – cute black-and-green ones with big RIP letters on top. My second oldest son watched quietly with fascination as I used a machine to cut them out.

Then he started asking questions.
“What’s a coffin?” came first. I told him it was something that we use to bury dead people in.

He watched for a little while longer and helped me punch out the cuttings. Then I started cutting out the skeletons that I planned to put in the coffins. As we were punching those out he held one up and said, “Can we name this skeleton Luca?”

It caught me totally off guard that he wanted to name one of the skeletons after his baby brother who died two years ago.

How did he think of that? How did he make the connection between his brother and the 6-inch paper skeleton he held in his hand?

We decorated Luca’s headstone a couple of weeks ago for Halloween. After that my 4-year-old told me he wanted to see his brother. That he wanted us to get him out of his grave.

I tried to gently explain to him that his baby brother wouldn’t look like he used to. That he isn’t in his body anymore.

Maybe that’s where this skeleton thing came from.

No matter where it came from it made me sad. I told him that I didn’t want to name one of our paper skeletons after his brother; that I didn’t want to think of Luca as a skeleton.

And quite honestly I don’t. I hate to even think of my baby being in the ground. And as sick and twisted as it sounds, I have had thoughts of the state of his buried body before. Thoughts that I try to push from my mind the instant they arrive.

But kids are a lot more matter of fact. I am sure my 4-year-old has thought of his brother as a skeleton. He was innocently connecting his brother with the Halloween decoration we were making and wanted to name it the same.

When I told him no, he started sobbing. He kept saying, “I miss Luca,” over and over. It totally broke my heart.

It makes me sad to think that my children will grow up their whole lives looking at dead things differently than most children. When I was a kid, no one I knew had died. I was 17 years old before I first saw a close loved one pass away. My grandpa died my senior year of high school, and he was 90.

My sons have known someone who died since they were 3 and 1 years old.

Luckily, I have amazing pictures of our little Luca to remind us what he is really like. After my son was crying for his brother, I printed a small 3 by 5 inch portrait of Luca off for him from the computer. It’s his own personal copy now that he can carry around when he misses his little friend.

As for the skeletons, I finished my craft and stuffed the coffins with candy before giving them out as gifts.

I never thought I would feel sentimental about a skeleton, but I’ll never look at the bony skinny guys the same way again. Not even the smiling plastic glow-in-the-dark ones.

They’ll forever remind me of what they actually represent, former human lives.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. six-pack momma
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 10:24:10

    I am so sorry, Natalie. Luca is beautiful. And you are right, he’s not in the ground. His spirit is very much alive. But to be honest, little McKay’s connection is exactly why I don’t like Halloween. Sure, I like dressing up as someone I’m not, and getting candy is always fun. But I have never enjoyed the creepy or haunted parts. Skeletons included. Maybe because I, too, have always known a loved one who has died. To me, it almost seems disrespectful to our Creator.


    • Natalie
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 08:45:47

      Christie, I completely agree with you. There’s something disrespectful about Halloween skeletons, zombies, etc. I love dressing up, but hate the gory, horror stuff.


  2. Trackback: What Boogers Taught Me This Year « Boogers on the Wall

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