Posts tagged “family

into the treasure box

The camera-phone six hundred and some miles away clicked in my daughter’s hand…fingers poked a message into the screen, and the image was transported across digital waves of something/nothingness and caused a small vibration from my phone…and I found it, many hours later, a tiny treasure…full of meaning and memories…of little ones cuddling on my lap, whispered words of “Papa’s mountains,” and the feel of a trail underfoot…images cascading in flashes of recall…sounds of water crashing or quietly rolling down the canyon…a scent of warm summer pine and wildflower…or the comforting wood-smoke on an icy morning while snow crunched underfoot….

girls-on-the-bridge-in-lcc-rev

I have crossed that bridge dozens of times…under the thick canopy of spring and summer fullness in the trees above, while the heady aroma of the mountains blew light or strong down the canyon….or atop a foot or more of snow piled high and reassuring, while I stood or knelt and made images of Christmas-tree-like reflections in the ice and snow rimmed stream…and then gone home to little one’s arms around my neck…”Did you have a nice hike, Papa…?”

 

*Iphound treasure courtesy of K. Brill, 8/31/16, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah.


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My Huckleberry…..

Little One in straw hat


Spring blossom….

I was going through a file looking for apple blossom photos to post this morning…but I thought this one of my granddaughter was more compelling than any of the flower images that I had captured yesterday…..

pretty in pink


Eleven Miles from Somewhere…again….

“Yesterday morning, on my drive home from the store where I had just purchased the week’s food and other household supplies, I was looking at the neighborhoods I passed and at the smoke and steam coming from roof-top chimneys and vent pipes.  I also caught sight, through and beyond the clouds, of parts and pieces of the white and enormous mountains that line our eastern horizon.  It was and is still amazing and weird and wonderful to find myself in this place in the middle hours of this last day of the year, in a place so new and strange and removed from where I was last year.  As I drove those snow-lined streets back to our neighborhood proper, I happened to notice a mile-marker sign that was posted along the road.  It said “Mile 11.”  Now, I am familiar with state highways and roads that leave their freeway confines and become or pass along the same route as a city street, like US Highway 60 in Arizona that becomes or passes-along on Grand Avenue, bisecting the Valley of the Sun to take travelers on their way to Wickenburg or beyond, and I know of US Highway 89 that takes us from Flagstaff to Page, and to Kanab and Panguitch, and then marks a parallel course to I-15 as it leads north to Provo and Salt Lake, eventually becoming State Street that runs the central length of our city, but I was not familiar with any such state route or US highway that had turned into 700 East as it made its course through the city.

Seeing the sign made me wonder about the eleven miles that had passed on the other side of that mile marker and how many other miles existed in the opposite and other direction, whatever and whichever way that actually was.  It struck me as odd, too, and maybe allegorical even, in the processing of what yesterday was and what today is in the marking of time in a year and this present time or era or segment of my life and my family’s lives in this time of crazy and dramatic change.  We’ve come to this station and place in our lives, taken such drastic steps to find ourselves in a new state and locale, and work and living and natural environment and our heads and hearts and sometimes emotions are spinning and wondering and looking for something familiar to grasp and hold-on to as we attempt to regain our balance and direction.  And here we are then, eleven miles from somewhere, remembering and thinking about the past and wondering about the future, holding-on to each other, leaning against one another in our little relocated family, awaiting the arrival of others and missing those who won’t or cannot join us…and our friends, of course, we remember and miss them too, those precious ones who, even from outside the circle of our family and intimates, loved us and brought us joy and companionship for the past twenty years and more.

So it’s not only us, but you, too, who on this first day of a new year are eleven miles from somewhere.  Where are you going, what are you doing, how are you, and we, too, going to measure this year when it’s gone, like we’ve done to the one that is just passed and passing?”

***This is a Favorite Re-post from January 1, 2011.


“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


the present…again

The notes dropped softly into the quiet air of the darkened room, falling easily like thick snowflakes on a wintry and wood-smokey night.  They slid sometimes in icy wonder up the scales and tinkled down again and pattered along the floor like a baby’s footsteps as he’s learning to walk, all wobbly-legged and unsure, patting his bare toes in sprinkled notes and laughs of fancy and then.

hands playing piano

They remind the man of a music box that used to sit on the shelf in other babies’ rooms in days and nights of a past that is thin and fleeting.  Cars and cars pass and the furnace clicks on and a smell of warm dust and human dander swirls against the cold walls as another tune steps from the stereo and moves him further along and into the night.  The muted lights from something moving on the quiet television that glows through his closed eyelids make him wonder for a second why it’s on, but then it doesn’t matter…as the notes keep rising and falling like a tiny heartbeat.  A tiny heartbeat that is just below the other notes and endures with its tender strength and doesn’t go away even when the music ends, that one little note that lies underneath and within and kept on with its steady, un-fading ping ping ping ping, and then, that heartbeat.  There is an Indian running swiftly in tinkling notes of raindrops and teardrops of gentle cadence, a rushing of golden tango-notes like freckles falling on a fair and tender face, and a person dining alone in a happy sadness that isn’t sad, with a movement and sway that comforts and soothes in its quietude. They are notes in their touching caress and the passing of the minutes and hours of a night that lure the man into a wakeful sleep where his heart beats slow and calm and there is nothing else, just the song.

This is a Favorite Re-post from November, 2010.


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Phoenix Mountain Silhouette

Phoenix Mountain Silhouette


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Tucson Mountain Silhouette

Tucson Mountain Silhouette 2


scattered

The man squatted on his haunches for a minute or two before he knelt into the brown grass and heavy leaves of late fall that covered this part of the forest.  His several decades spoke loudly in the rubbing of bone and cartilage in his knees and the sharpness of the pain in his feet.  He looked over the top of his glasses at the trees and rocks beyond, removing the field of his vision from behind the shading of the lenses so he could see the trees’ remaining leaves in their natural color, even if they were blurred in shape and substance.  He had walked and run and hiked the miles and hours into the forest, remained on the trail for most of the morning, but now he wandered off a bit as the day progressed and as he felt the need for a slower pace.

About a quarter to half a mile back down the trail he thought he had heard a scream.  It wasn’t long and it wasn’t short, but a medium scream that climbed in intensity in its short life and in its rebounding off the rocks and slabs of the canyon walls.  He thought it was a scream.  It might have been only an echo, though…an echo of a scream.  He stopped and listened for what more might come after that middling scream and wondered from where and why it might have come.

The canyon road was somewhere off to his left as he had climbed forward, but now it was behind him as he sat there, facing into the woods and listening to what might be there or not.  His thighs were trembling in staying in the position, or holding the position that he had been in for what must have been three and four or more minutes now.  He thought he had heard a scream and wondered at the closeness of the road and the cars in their passing.  Was it a girl or woman on the roadway on her bike, or was it a younger boy whose agony or surprise was too great to allow him the control of a more manly scream and instead came out like a girl’s in its purity of emotion, or was it someone on the trail or deeper in the canyon’s woods?

He tried to look past the clearing and through the near-winter bare trees toward where the base of the mountain had to be, those hundred or more yards in front of him.  The man stood again and turned to look back down the grassy trail that he had followed to the clearing.  He could still make out the larger and more often traveled dirt trail that ran this side of the rocky gorge that held the stream, but just barely, because of the rise of the ground and the vegetation that was in his way as he had gone this direction and that in following the more faint trail up and into the woods, the forested forever that ran up the canyon and brushed and hugged the side of the mountain that rose slowly and then thrust itself upward in a granite face with its contours and shadings from the light and the clouds and the darker woods beneath.

The man was still outside the clearing, down-trail of it by a dozen yards or more, but he could see that it had been used as a camp-site at some time in the past.  He saw what appeared to be a tarp, curled and crumpled into a loose ball that had been blown and dragged by the wind and caught in the leaves and branches that lay in their forms across the wood’s floor.  Pine needles and cones and fist and thumb-sized leaves were wrapped in the blueness of the tarp and faded it and caused it to almost bleed into the colors of the forest, so numerous they were in their covering of it.

sepia campsite

The man looked behind him again and listened for the stream.  He listened for the breeze in the trees and the stronger wind that might be up in the higher branches of the pines, that charging flow of air and breath that rides through the pine needles and cones and tight branches and sings among the heights and sometimes talks in a whisper tone of things seen and past and gone.

A truck was downshifted and rode the lower gears as it descended the canyon road, as it caught itself in a tighter turn and the gears of the transmission whined higher in their efforts to slow the weighted bulk of the truck.  A bird lighted on a branch above him and hopped closer toward the berries on the higher branches, tentative steps and hops; he looked around and down and back as he climbed toward his prize.

The man turned around again and saw what might still be a sleeping bag at the far side of the clearing.  There were leaves and dirt on it and he noticed…his abdominal muscles clamped down and a rush of adrenaline burst through his body…he was immediately scared and angry and his heart raced while sweat streamed down from his forehead and into his eyes…he wiped them furiously and looked again at the sleeping bag and saw strands of red-brown hair, clumps of it, tangled and matted and caught in the leaves and sticks, caught in the zipper of the bag and his heart was pounding in his chest and images flashed in his mind, he bent on his knees and leaned into the ground with his face into the grass now….no….

campsite in sepia

Someone else’s scent was on her neck, a blast of it came to him now as his animal mind listened to what might be around him, moving in his physical world as he raced into a past that had crumbled into ruins in years back and then….go away.  Footsteps and echoes and tears in his eyes and fallen leaves in a warm desert air with a late sun shining into the night…she lied.  The forest floor beneath him spoke of a present and he heard cars on the canyon roadway passing…rich earth, wet, decaying leaves pursuing their beauty and regeneration….cells breaking down again…thoughts coursing through his mind, bursting like unexpected thunder pounding into his consciousness…a pressure grew in his chest and made his shoulder hurt as he breathed deeply of the wet forest.

He leaned back, near upright, and tasted the salt of tears and thought of her beneath him, half smile and half pain in her closed eyes, holding his hips against hers and he saw shadows moving, pill bottles scattered on the floor and bed….capsules in a fold of the pillowcase and curtains moving with a breeze….  “Mommy!” came from the other room….  The pressure in his chest, numb shoulder, and tingling fingers brought him back…again the anger, fear, and cold.  The man licked his lips and looked at the sleeping bag, he sought the hair again…leaves torn from their branches, bark shredded, splayed angrily against past thoughts…another motorcycle passed on the canyon road….

Sometimes we misplace our dreams, lose them, or forget that we hid them away…and sometimes they’re taken from us whole, from the first thoughts that spawned them to the final beat of the heart that sustained them….

***This is a work of fiction that was inspired by the finding of a long-abandoned campsite in the forested area of Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, USA.  Any resemblance of actual persons or events is purely coincidental.


the unsent letter…again….

I wanted you to know that I love you.

I wanted you to know that I still love you.

I wanted you to know that, even with everything that has happened between us, and even not between us, but between those others who we loved or love, that I still love you.

I wanted you to know that there is a piece of my life that is missing because you aren’t a part of it like you used to be.

I wanted you to know that even when my words have been infrequent or nonexistent, my heart still speaks; it still loves you and misses you.

I wanted you to know that even when you’re gone, I will still love you.

I wanted you to know that I will still love you when I’m gone, whenever and however that might happen, or whatever that might mean.

I wanted you to know that even though you’re gone, I still love you.

I wanted you to know that I haven’t taken you for granted.

I wanted you to know that I haven’t been uninterested in you and your life just because I haven’t asked you questions about you and your life…I was giving you space.

I wanted you to know that the others still ask about you, still think about you, still wonder about you.

I wanted you to know that it’s not too late.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I wasn’t what you needed me to be when you needed me to be different than I was.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t grow or change fast enough to make the difference that you needed me to make.

I wanted you to know that I was there when you thought I wasn’t, but I didn’t know how to make myself more known to you.

I wanted you to know that my anger was really sadness…or shame, but I didn’t know how to express it as such.

I wanted you to know that when I seemed to be distant and unconcerned, I was really hiding inside myself because I was hurting, too.

I wanted you to know that I never meant to hurt you…even though it appears that I didn’t try hard enough in meaning to not hurt you.

I wanted you to know that there were times that I was selfish and wasn’t thinking about you and others, and I’m sorry for being that way.

I wanted you to know that I know the past cannot be undone and that some things cannot be fixed.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I hurt you when I did what I did.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I hurt you when I said what I said and wrote what I wrote.

I wanted you to know that I will understand if you can’t forgive me, if you don’t forgive me, if you won’t forgive me.

I wanted you to know that I still love you.

I wanted you to know that what you did to the others hurts me, too, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I wanted you to know that regardless of the decisions you made yesterday, or last week, or last month, or last year, I still love you.

I wanted you to know that regardless of the decisions you make right now, or tomorrow, I will still love you.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t protect you when I should have.

I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t speak-up for you when I should have.

I wanted you to know that I don’t expect you to be like everyone else; I love you for who you are.

I wanted you to know that I don’t like the distance that exists between us, the obstacles of time and place and not-talking and isolation that have grown like fences and rivers and mountains and dotted lines on maps…like boundaries that split and divide us.

I wanted you to know that I love you, still.

***This is a Favorite Re-post from May, 2010.