Once, when I was 7-years-old and my brother Evan was 4, my mom brought us to the cemetery on Halloween.
We had been driving by anyway, and so she considered it a good occasion to introduce us to the upcoming feasts of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days even as our attention was fixated on costume-wearing and trick-or-treating later that evening.
My mom began, “This is the place where people are buried.”
“What?” my little brother asked incredulously. “You bury the person in the ground?”
My mom clarified, “The body is buried in the cemetery because you don’t need your body when you die because your soul goes to heaven to be with God. The body is like a costume.”
My younger brother and I knew that our grandmother and baby brother were buried in this cemetery, but the details were perhaps still a bit perplexing to us.
Then my mom said, “Just say quietly to yourself, ‘I love you’ and don’t let me or one another hear it. The part of you that can hear ‘I love you’ goes to heaven.”
After a moment of our solemn and respective listening, my brother Evan piped up and asked my mom, “Did you bring a shovel?”
A bit baffled, she waited for him to explain.
“I want to see the costume. I want to see my brother’s costume,” he said.
Photo: Our baby brother Brandon Joseph wearing a pumpkin costume while he was in the hospital.