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Updated: Feb 7, 2022

On the path around the retention pond, on the flat wood fence that holds nothing in or out - there is a cairn of small rocks.

Chris says “What’s that?”

I am walking a good clip and stop like a cartoon character: heels down, dirt flying up.

“It’s a camp thing - I think.” I say.

Chris looks around unconvinced. Maybe he looks for treasure? X marks the spot? Or a note. He wants the meaning.

“It’s somebody trying to say something,” I offer. “Maybe it’s a love letter to someone who will pass by here later!”

We look behind us. We look ahead. We are the only ones here. It’s a crossroads of sort. On the right - the path circles the pond, on the left - the path takes us to our car. We walk alone like the older couples in our neighborhood did when we first moved in. How cute!! We thought they were. Holding hands firmly, like breath blowing on low flames.

We walk on and quiet down into our own thoughts. I think of the kids when they were little and they went to camps. Their personalities popping out bigger than life, like movie characters - bright and colorful, in constant motion, making us laugh.

As parents, we map out our dreams for our children the minute we hold them in our arms for the first time and stare down into those scrunched up faces. Later, we label them like the Wizard Of Oz. This one’s the Brain, this one’s the Heart, this one’s Courageous……

We lay down our dreams like bricks through the years. Where we think they should go, what we think they should do - glorifying it like a yellow brick road.

The water on the pond makes me think of the last fishing trip I had with Shane in Wyoming.

He read the Snake River to me the way I imagine Ernest Hemingway would read his own chapters out loud. Fervent and sure. Clear as a professor who has taught this class a hundred times.

On the river, the sky was perfectly blue, like nothing had ever scarred it before. A bird made a chippy chirping sound that sounded like me repeatedly kissing the top of the kids’ peach fuzzed heads when they were babies. My heart so full, it grew into my lungs, my hands, my lips.

Fly fishing was easy under his guidance. The day was a blank page and he made me feel like anyone could learn this stuff that comes so easily to him.

I stopped listening and started just loving. I wanted to tell him that he could do anything. I wanted to kiss the top of his head off and take this son - who was so sure of his cast, of oxbows, deltas, muskies and rainbow trout - to the rest of the world. His back straight, his voice all Earnest Hemingway strong. A new man in my eyes, from the baby and the ideas I had at birth. His own bricks planted one by one to the right.

All our kids have gotten to the crossroads, I think, as we head to the car after our walk. They reached that spot between our parent dreams and the dreams they have of their own. Headed off on their paths.

I want to tell them to have faith in this world now. That faith is a muscle - not to worry - it will grow stronger after tiny tears.

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