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Looking Back: Reflections on Halloween

Happy Halloween!  Today, I'm revisiting one of my first columns for Generation D, written back in 2006 about a Halloween experience from when I was in middle school.   (Believe me, it's safer than watching the Halloween video I did last year, before I figured out how to edit and instead rambled on and on and on and ... you get it.) 

Happy Halloween!!

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More Than Candy and Costumes

Dressing up was not an issue. I wore my silly costumes proudly and they were always homemade. I was a fairy godmother one year. I was a gypsy for about three years running. Another year I was Bo Peep, complete with sheep.

Then one year, I was diabetic.

When the central focus of the holiday is eating candy, what’s a kid with diabetes to do?

I can’t admit that I remember it being a big deal, but my mother will recount that first Halloween, when she leaned in to give me a kiss and she smelled chocolate on my breath. “I thought it would kill you,” she admitted. That panic, that first taste of unadulterated fear was something my parents felt so I wouldn’t have to. I was just a little six-year-old kid. I was more concerned about whether or not my gypsy skirts were getting tattered on the edges from running through the streets on Halloween night.

In the first few years after my diagnosis, the candy was monitored and handled by my mother. I had a few pieces, a little bit was stashed away as “reaction treaters,” and my brother and sister bartered with me for the rest. My older brother, little sister, and I would sit on the floor after trick-or-treating and pour our pillowcase collections of candy out onto the floor, separating the candy into genre piles – one for chocolate, one for hard candies and gum, and a potluck of the non-candy items like pencils and stickers. Somehow, I usually ended up with all the pencils and stickers as my brother and sister grinned at me with chocolate-stained mouths.

I used to sneak pieces of candy, though. I do remember finding the “reaction treater” stash and cramming five or six mini-Snickers bars into my mouth. The chocolate taste was sickeningly sweet and tasted like a melding of delicious deception. I didn’t get caught but the feeling of guilt I experienced is something I can still feel deep in my stomach if I think about that moment too much.

So now I was a diabetic trick-or-treater. Couldn’t tell by looking at me. In my group of friends, you couldn’t pick me out of that crowd. Which is probably why the cop used his police cruiser intercom to harness my attention.

I was about nine years old, trick-or-treating with my friends in one of their neighborhoods. There were seven or eight of us and we were all costumed and toting pillowcases to carry our bounty.

The headlights came up behind us first, then the swirling red and blue police lights. The intercom squealed on.

“Kerri Morrone?”

We stopped dead in our tracks. No one turned around. My friend Christie whispered loudly to me, “Did he just say your name?”

“Kerri Morrone? We’re looking for Kerri. Is she with you guys?”

My blood ran cold. What could I have possibly done? Did they know I talked during the D.A.R.E. presentation and they were mad about it? Did they find out I had pinched my sister on the arm for telling on me? Oh my God, did they know I sneaked candy every Halloween?

Like a convict on the run finally giving in, I turned around slowly and raised my hand over my head.

“I’m Kerri.”

The intercom squealed to life again. “Please come over to the car.”

I shuffled my shoes, now filled with lead, toward the police cruiser. My friends stood back, clutching their pillowcases and staring.

The window of the police car lowered and revealed the smiling face of Officer Mark, the young D.A.R.E. officer who visited my middle school every fall.

“Hi, Kerri. Sorry to scare you.” The grin on his face was warm and friendly. “You know, my wife is diabetic. She likes this special sugar-free candy. I thought, since you were diabetic too, that you might like some.” He reached to the seat beside him and handed me a white box with a black and orange ribbon tied around it.

Are people aware of the very moment they affect your life forever? The moment that they make you feel less alone?

“Thanks, Officer Mark. Really, thank you. This is awesome. I thought I was in trouble, though!”

His grin became even wider. “Yeah, well you’re not. But make sure you and your friends stay out of it!” He leaned out the window and gestured toward my friends. “Be careful, girls! Have a good night!”

“Bye, Officer Mark!!” they all called in unison.

The next year, I dressed up as a gypsy ... again. I was also still a diabetic.

I was okay with being both.

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Have a safe and happy Halloween, and don't forget - NaBloPoMo starts tomorrow.  So does NaNoWriMo.  Who's in??

Comments

I love the way you tell a story, building suspense and hitting the reader with the surprise of Officer Mark's gift to you.

Can't believe NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! I'm in: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/513157

Thanks for posting this Kerri. It hits home today. First time trick or treating with my 7 year old, now that she is Type 1. Only 9 months into the diagnosis. She's going out as half angel/half devil - (never a truer costume there has ever been.) She plans on getting as much candy as her older 2 sisters.

The one thing I am looking forward to, that has gotten me through it, is that her hospital, the one where we spent 6 looonnnnnngg days upon diagnosis, hosts a 'Diabetic Candy Exchange' the day after Halloween. That's right, tomorrow, from 4-6 pm, we go with her to the hospital cafeteria - there will be games, a magician, face painting, the world's fastest pumpkin carver (oooohhh!!) and most of all, other Type 1 kiddos up to age 18. The nurses at the hospital organize it every year. She also gets to exchange a bag of candy for 'prizes' picked out just for her - gift cards, toys, etc. They asked me all about her when I registered her for it. They said the prizes are picked out especially for the child.

So, we will trick or treat tonight, save a good bowl of candy for her to have, just like her sisters do, and head off with the rest tomorrow to go to our real treat - meeting other Type 1 kiddos and hanging out. I can't think of a more perfect, sweet, Halloween treat.

awww...love this story & my lil' bro is a D.A.R.E. officer ;-)...

Thanks for posting this kerry :) Unfortunately for me, halloween has never been a good time. I always felt really alone and when i got back from trick or treating with a bag full of chocolatey goodies, I'd have to save them! They lastest months though!!!! I guess that was a good thing, but it still felt a bit bad when all my friends could go out and have loads of sweets.

As for nanowrimo - hell yeah! I'm in! Cheriton1644 over on the site :)

Very cute story.
I was diagnosed the day before halloween when I was 7
(yesterday was my 36th anniversary). For years I thought it was a cruel joke to be diagnosed with diabetes the day before the biggest candy day of the year. But one of my wise friends recently observed that had I not been diagnosed the day before that I might have ended up in DKA the day after. So now I'm grateful for having found out the day before.

Hi Kerri,
I love your blog. I used to always look forward to Halloween even as a diabetic. My mom would let me choose one full size candy bar that I could eat before I went out because I would burn it off. Then, all the friends and family would give me peanuts so that I didn't feel different. Not exactly the same but made the trick or treating experience similar.

I often think about that, what kids will remember. I am a teacher, and you never know what will stick with someone forever. Thank goodness for Officer Mark. That was a heroic thing he did.

Great blog as always. I don't really remember trick or treating pre as I was 6 but as a child I would trade my candy in for a toy which I enjoyed and as I got older keep some for lows and give away the rest....

I have a horrible memory for my childhood... so I dont' remember how Halloween went off, but I do remember Easter being harder until the year I got a book in my easter basket instead of sugar free candy. :P yuck. still don't like that stuff. Doesn't matter that I had to ask for it the alternative. It felt good.

I'm doing NanoWrimo again this year. Been plotting for 4 weeks. Hoping to get through it this year. Last didn't finish the manuscript until January 1st at about 75K. But, after a year of editing and polishing, I did start submitting that manuscript in September so... I'm a winner if you ask me. ;)

This year, I want it to take less than a year to get through the entire process. You doing it?

Ugh,Kerri, you made me cry again!! Great post!

Scary story! I thought he was going to bring you a meter or something!

Kerri, I have tears running down my face. Maybe it's because my sugar levels have been a little high the last few days, I don't know. Knowing that you understand what I'm going through, and the sadness knowing you had to start this at such a young age, just touched my heart. That officer is such a caring person to do that and obviously it has stuck with you!

I just posted about my dealings with Halloween as a diabetic mom before reading this. Here's hoping for a cure so that someday we can both eat as much Halloween candy as we like!

Oh and I wanted to add that I am doing NaNoWriMo, too. I'm up to over 700 words. Best I've done yet and it's only November 2nd. hehe :)

Oh my, I would have peed my pants!! That is so nice of him to reach out like that in a time of need.

I have to buy my daughters candy from her, which I don't mind at all.

This post made me cry. My daughter was diagnosed just after the Easter Bunny had visited when she was 7. She still had candy left because she liked to savor it and torment her brother and sister who inhaled their. Now, we still do chocolate but only the kind that has carb count on the package. We trade Halloween candy for shoes (her addiction since she was 2) and I hope I don't torment her all of her life.

My other daughter was diagnosed on Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. Another candy day!

Thanks to the Dare officer and others like him. Our kids need that support!

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