Life Changes: Telling Stories with Hand Towels


This may look like an ordinary pile of fall/Halloween themed hand towels to you, but as my oldest daughters know… I can tell you the story of my entire married life through my hand towels.

I bought these new towels yesterday and it was a momentous occasion. You see… Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, and fall had always been my favorite season for as long as I could remember. I used to get so excited as a kid when the weather would start to cool down and my parents would start leaving the windows open at night as we slept. The cool, earthy air used to bring me so much joy and I knew the Halloween decorations, parties and décor would soon be everywhere.

I bought my first Halloween hand towels for my very first home in 2008… I loved those towels so much. I still have them in the cupboard, though they are very faded now, and so thin that they hardly dry your hands at all. But they hold so many memories… They are the ONLY fall hand towels we owned until yesterday… when I finally bought some new ones for the first time in 10 years. Until now, we simply didn’t have any decent fall hand towels left. I know what you’re thinking… how can that be if fall is your favorite time of year? Why didn’t you just buy some new ones each year?

Our first son was born October 22, 2010, and I was OVERJOYED to have a little Halloween baby! I could NOT wait to have a little one with an autumn birthday to celebrate each year. I dressed him up as a tiny little 4 lb. baseball player in some Carters baseball pajamas when he was only 9 days old. I dreamed of all the years to come… of all the Halloween themed birthday parties we would throw him, of the costumes he would wear, of the spooky haunted houses we would visit. I could NOT wait.

But it was a dream that would never come. Just four months after I delivered that sweet little Halloween baby… he died. And my love of fall disappeared… just like that.

I gave it a shot, the year that he died, to decorate and have a Halloween party and get in the fall/Halloween spirit. But it was excruciating. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, and all the memories of the little boy I would never see grow up came crashing in. I remember sitting at my kitchen table, looking around at all the decorations… and running to my bathroom to vomit between sobs. WHY, GOD, HAD YOU ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN TO ME???

And so, all of the fall and Halloween decorations stayed mostly packed away for the years that followed. Each year I would take out a few things, but it always hurt, it always made me cry, and eventually I would just put it all away and try to forget that fall existed. If you live in the Midwest, then you know what a spectacularly beautiful season fall is… and you know it’s the last glimpse of beauty you’re going to get before the brutal Midwest winter slams into you with a vengeance.

After my son’s death, each September would hit me like a ton of bricks. I would mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the devastation and depression that was coming. I would prepare for the autumn without him, for the holidays without him, for the long depressing winter without him, and for all of the PTSD triggering events that fell between October and March (those were the few months that we had with him). It was excruciating… and it made my life a depressing Hell for years.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I saw fall and Halloween themed hand towels in the Aldi ad. Normally, I would look right past them and pretend they didn’t exist. But for some reason… yesterday I couldn’t look away from them. (And let me preface this by saying that I literally have no right to be spending $12 on three sets of hand towels. My kids only have clothing right now because my mom and a few good friends have kept them dressed. That $12 could have gone somewhere more useful… like to my property taxes that are due in 6 weeks.)

Anyways… for better or for worse, poor financial investment or not, I made the decision to buy these hand towels. They are sitting on my counter, next to my oven, all spread out as I stare them down. What do you mean, dear hand towels? What does it mean that I finally purchased you, washed you, and am getting ready to display them on my oven door handle and in my hall bathroom?

I think maybe they symbolize growth. Learning to grow into whatever fall means to me now, I suppose. Fall will always be the season that reminds me that life is short, moments are fleeting, and you never can tell what’s coming. A season that once brought me great joy, and that I’ve decided will bring me great joy this year and every year to come.

When winter comes, I will tuck these towels in the bottom of the cupboard, under all the summer hand towels, and I will smile… knowing full well that I will be looking at these hand towels a decade from now, and remember how expensive they felt at the time, and how momentous it was that I finally started looking forward to fall again ❤


“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald