It’s Halloween night 2011. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. That’s because it is the only day of the year when it’s totally ok to be as outrageous, expressive, colorful and brilliant as you want. It’s no wonder that I’ve always been attracted to it.
Halloween 2007 changed all that. Four years ago tonight, I was mugged at sundown right in front of my building on a busy street in Los Angeles. I was coming home from the library and was almost inside my building, when I was attacked. So close to safety and yet so far.
It happened while I had my key in the keyhole, trying to open the lobby door. suddenly, I felt left arm catch fire. At first, I couldn’t understand what was happening. I looked down and realized that my shoulder bag was clutched by my left hand, which felt like it was burning, and that it was also clutched by another person standing behind me. It all felt like a movie in slow motion. I turned and saw a young man standing there looking into my eyes, pulling at my bag with everything he had. Apparently, my reflexive instincts had kicked in and I found myself in a struggle and a tug of war with this man who clearly meant to harm me.
So there I was, holding on to my bag, unable to overwrite my instinct to fight back. He was pulling and yanking with all of his strength. Every time he yanked at my arm, it felt like it was coming out of the socket. But, I wouldn’t let go. I was tougher than both of us had imagined. I remember my fingers slipping and finally losing my grip on the bag. So, I did the only thing that made sense, which really made no sense at all. I found myself chasing the guy down my street for half a block. I heard these guttural screams for help. It took a few of them to realize that they were coming out of me. They scared me-not of him, but of myself. I had never run as fast or yelled as loudly. I yelled so loud that every neighbor came out of see what was happening. I didn’t catch him. He hopped into a running car and fled. And I stood there in the middle of a busy street, too hyped up to feel like a victim of a crime, which is what I was called by the police officers who came later.
Two weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant and that I had been for four weeks. As soon as I knew, I began to worry about that Halloween chase. I imagined this tiny helpless seed hanging on as hard as it could while my instincts took over and possessed me to play cops and robbers on Halloween night. And I worried that I had done damage to this much wanted, much hoped for and already loved little light inside.
After a few agonizing weeks, multiple trips to the doctor’s office, many sleepless nights and even a heartbeat at six weeks, the light went out and my little seed let go. And I began the hardest fours years of my life. Dashed hopes, a body that seems to only know how to betray me, doctors, specialists, tests, depression, destruction of any sense of fairness, happiness, or normalcy, abandoned friendships and thousands of big and small emotional wounds that have almost done me in for good several times over.
Tonight, I tried to reclaim my life back. Tonight, I tried to get my spirit healed. Tonight at dusk, I took a walk with my head held up high, daring for the ghost of that Halloween night to come near me. Tonight, still childless after more than four years, I braved the streets filled with wobbling toddlers dressed as cupcakes and fairies and parents pushing strollers carrying cute little pumpkins, bunnies and kitties. Normally the sight of toddlers, babies and little kids is my kryptonite and I wisely avoid places and holidays that remind me of all that hasn’t yet happened for me. But, tonight I took my life back. Tonight, I was brilliant, not because of a sexy costume or blinking accessories, but because I simply took a walk despite all the reasons for not doing so.
My child- the child that never came- would have been born in the summer of 2008 and would be three years old by now. Who knows what this Halloween would have looked like had he or she held on and was here with me now. Maybe he would have been dressed as the Cat in the Hat, or a fireman. Or maybe she would be a pink princess. And maybe I also would have been costumed, taking him or her trick or treating, instead of being beautifully brilliant, incredibly sad and stronger than I ever imagined.