“a little longer”…thoughts of a young father

“As I put her to sleep, holding the bottle to her small mouth, I listen to her breathe.  I feel her little movements as she struggles against the sleepiness that always wins in the end.  I hear her drinking from her bottle, first quickly as she is so excited to get her evening nourishment, but then slower and slower as the heavy weight of slumber pulls her little eyes closed in longer and longer blinks.

But tonight something different happens.  Tonight, as she drifts closer and closer to sleep, she reaches up with her hand, as she does often while drifting off.  But this time she rests her trusting hand on mine as I hold her bottle.  Not a brush, not a slip, not an accident.  Her hand rests on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand, what she wants to hold.

Can’t this bottle be just a bit bigger?

Can’t there be more left in it for her to drink?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

Her bottle empties and I replace it with her binky.  Her hand moves as I shift her body, cradle her, and rock her the rest of the way to sleep.  With her bottle empty, she surrenders herself to the sandman.  Her eyes close, her breathing slows, her body stills.  Her hand is no longer on mine as it was.  Such a small gesture and yet she has no idea.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

portrait of a baby in black and white

***

                She wakes up and begins her day, chattering on about breakfast, about her Mommy, about her games and shows.  She is happy, as she is most days.  There are no owies or runny noses or naps.  She moves through her world freely and with more and more independence.  ‘I can brush my own teeth, I can put my plate in the sink, I can get dressed, I can, I can, I can.’  The day nears its end, as all days do, with bedtime stories and ni-nights and kisses and hugs.

But this day is different.  This is the last of this era.  This is the end of this stage.  Tomorrow she goes to school.  Tomorrow she meets new people, learns new things, begins new routines, needs help from someone else.  This bedtime I know all about her day, what she did, what she saw, what she said.  When she lies down to bed tomorrow her stories will be new.

Can’t this day be just a bit longer?

Can’t there be more words in this story?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her world in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

The story ends, she gives and gets her hugs and kisses.  She rolls over and lets me believe that she will be going right to sleep, but knowing she will be up imagining what tomorrow will be like.  Excited and anxious and scared.  Her days are no longer only mine as they were.  So precious these moments but she doesn’t know.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

to hide away

***

                Busy as always, so much less time to spend in the house these days for a young adult.  She learns more every day than I have in years.  The world is still opening up to her as she stretches her legs into the adult world, learns to live, to work, to be responsible.  I get to see where my efforts have paid off.  I get to see where she could have been guided better.  But that’s only when I get to see her.  New friends with new faces and new stories and experiences and places and people.  It seems that most of the time there is considerable effort to keep up and by the time I do, the whole story is new and different and I’m not caught up anymore.

But in this rare moment, something is different.  She sits beside me as the evening winds to a close to share her day.  She isn’t busy with friends or work or school, she is busy spending time with me.  She wants to be with me, she wants me to hear her, she wants to hear me.  I listen as she unfolds her busy day before me and allows me to participate, because today I am part of her busy day.

Can’t this conversation be just a bit longer?

Can’t I say more to keep her from going to bed?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her story in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She begins to yawn, her eyes grow redder as her body tells her it’s time for sleep.  I tell her goodnight and watch as she leaves to her room.  She carries on to bed thinking nothing different of the day.  Another day closer to where she’s going.  Another day further from where she started.  Something as simple as time spent with someone, but she doesn’t get it.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                She walks to the door as she prepares to leave.  She is always going places, new places, old places.  Places I’ve been to, places I haven’t.  Some places maybe she’ll take me to, places maybe that I really want to see.  We gather around the door, talking about when she’s coming back, who she’s going to be with, what she’s going to be doing.

But this time it’s different.  She’s not coming back, unless it’s to visit.  She’s going to be with people I don’t know, people I won’t know.  She’s going to be doing things that I won’t have any involvement in, or even know about in some cases.  Today she’s going to her house.  That used to mean the same thing as when I was going to my house, but not now, not this time.  She is going to her own house.  She is leaving my house and going home.

Can’t we stand here at the door just a bit more?

Can’t I find something else to load into your car?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her home in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She walks out the door and gets in her car.  I get one last wave and she blows me a kiss as she drives to her new house, her new home.  I watch as the car winds down the street into the distance.  Even after the car is long out of site, I continue to watch down the street as if I can watch her make it home safely, as if I can see right to her door from mine as I always have.  She grew up here with me, I watched her grow, but it’s not something she is able to appreciate yet.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brought to my heart.

***

                I walk with her as I have so many evenings, arm in arm.  There is a cool breeze that blows through the trees and causes our hair to stir.  We always just walk, nowhere in particular.  To the end of the street, up the road, around the block.  It never really matters, we always know where we are going back to.  It is wonderful when she comes to visit and spend time, talks about her life, her job, her friends.  Sometimes we can walk together without saying a word at all.

But it is again different this time.  This time we walk with a destination.  It is not a far walk, but it is the furthest walk I have ever taken.  My destination is near the end of the aisle, at which point I take my seat and let her walk the rest of the aisle to another arm to place hers in.  It is not as if I won’t have another walk with her, arm in arm.  Our next walks will be different, about a new chapter.

Can’t the aisle be just a bit longer?

Can’t we slow the pace of the walk?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her arm in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

I give her away, just as she asked me to.  Tears in my eyes, I smile at her.  I sit down and watch her speak words of love to her best friend.  She stands there looking as beautiful as the day she was first mine.  We still take walks, arm in arm, and still talk about life.  We even talk about the very walk that began her newest chapter and my role in that walk, but I can’t expect her to understand what it means to me.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                Visits at her house are always wonderful, visits with her at any place are wonderful.  She has grown into an amazing woman.  I get to see her world as she decorated it around her.  There aren’t words for my pride when she introduces me to her friends.  To be important enough that someone she knows will, should, gets to meet me.  To be this far down the road and still hold the honor of being an important figure in her life feels like a rarity.

But this visit will be different.  I am not meeting her friend or neighbor or coworker.  I am meeting her daughter.  I am holding her daughter.  I am rocking her daughter.  She watches me as I stare into her face through another.  The flood of memories, of emotions, of beauty overwhelms me.

Couldn’t she have been this small a bit longer?

Couldn’t I go back to do this all again?

Couldn’t she stay a little longer as my baby?

That’s all I want, just let those moments last a little longer.

She takes her baby daughter from me and I get the joy of watching her stare into the eyes of her precious daughter as I once did.  The most beautiful transformation takes place right before me as I look at her and realize that now, after all this time, she understands, and will forever.  She knows what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                As I see her approach me, I reflect on all the times I have truly watched her as she experienced life.  As she lives life.  I watched as she placed her small hand on mine in a trusting hold, as she moved from my world into hers, as she kept me in her story, as she stepped out of my home and into one of her own, as she held her arm in mine for the longest walk, as she transitioned from a woman into a Mommy.  She sits beside me and smiles at me as I always loved her to do.

But this time is, different.  I am watching her approach me for the last time.  I am watching her for the last time.  As she sits in the chair beside my bed, she places her hand on mine.  As I drift off, I feel her hand as she softly weeps.  Her hand is on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand.  What she wants to hold.

Can’t this life be just a bit longer?

Can’t I have her by my side tomorrow?

Can’t I have tomorrow?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.”

© 2013 – Caleb Michael Brill

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39 responses

  1. Me

    Beyond precious…..

    December 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

  2. Beautifully written . . .

    December 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

    • I’ll pass it along, Emilio. Thank you.

      December 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      • I noticed the copyright when I read it . . .

        . . . I found it inspirational, pointing out how fleeting each moment is, and to cherish them . . . it made my wife cry. She’s more affected by where we are in our own path.

        December 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm

        • I appreciate you sharing this, Emilio…and your wife’s sentiment, as well. You and I have discussed that path before…I think I might understand the tears. Thank you again.

          December 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm

  3. Beautiful portrait.

    December 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

    • Thank you, Sharon….she’s a beautiful baby. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm

  4. sandra getgood

    That is really beautiful

    December 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    • I thought so, too. I’ll make sure the author gets all the nice feedback. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  5. So beautiful… Blessing and happiness to you all. Thanks and Love, nia

    December 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    • Thank you for the nice words, Nia…my son will enjoy reading them. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  6. Your words brought tears of remembrance of my own little ones now grown…

    December 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    • How nice that you found them so touching, Raylene…I’ll make sure my son reads your comment.

      December 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm

  7. Liana

    scriptural

    December 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    • Well-said, Liana.

      December 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm

  8. Ah, yes. They are always in our hearts. More than they know, until they know, and even then, always so special and of the heart. Thank you.

    December 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    • It’s very special to see that my son knows…that he recognizes what he’s holding in his arms at night….

      December 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm

  9. lovely Scott

    December 8, 2013 at 10:26 am

    • I thank you for my son, Adrian. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm

  10. Anything I say in response to this would be trite. But it deserves a comment. It moved me, beyond measure.

    December 8, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    • Such kindness, Rachael.

      December 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm

  11. Brings tears…

    December 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    • Your tender heart, Susan…your knowing heart….

      December 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm

  12. Pingback: Thoughts on Blogging | Disperser Tracks

  13. “as she kept me in her story..” I like that very much. It’s beautiful, and anyone whose story proceeds along those lines knows they’re very lucky. Wonderful rhythm! Guest writer? Someone you know?

    December 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    • Very lucky indeed, Lynn…and yes, a guest writer, my second son…it was his baby holding his hand as he rocked her to sleep the other night.

      December 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      • How terrific that your son carries on your creative genes. Best to you both!

        December 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        • Thank you, Lynn. 🙂

          December 23, 2013 at 5:58 pm

  14. I think Rachel nailed it. There are posts that reach beyond the trite words I can say in response. This is one of them.

    December 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    • Thank you for the sentiment, Gunta…Caleb will love it. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm

  15. LB

    So very poignant … is there truth to this story?

    December 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

    • Yes, there is some truth to the story…my 30yo son wrote it after putting his baby to bed the other night…the first two parts are things that he’s experienced already…with his baby and his older daughter (the little ones in the photos)…he hasn’t lived through the rest of it though…but has evidently given it some thought. 🙂

      December 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm

  16. Lovely Scott

    December 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    • I think my son captured it well….

      December 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm

  17. I wept…..enough said……

    December 22, 2013 at 4:41 am

    • That is heart-touching, as well, my gentle friend. The things you see and know…and then what resonates within.

      December 22, 2013 at 9:49 am

      • It’s so wonderful that your son has inherited your inspiring love of writing. ……..and my own son who has two beautiful daughters was moved by reading his thoughts. Our families blessing on yours for this special season.

        December 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

        • I love that my son likes to write, John…he doesn’t do it often, but it’s usually soulful when he does. Thank you again for the kind words, for sharing your son’s sentiments…and for the holiday blessings. I wish the same for you and your loved ones, my friend….

          December 23, 2013 at 7:10 am

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