Scenes From a Time in Autumn

I want to remember this week forever. I want each and every detail of the past five days to return to me just as they happened, to spill over me fully in crystal-clear vignettes of crisp gray mornings and warm blue afternoons spent in a simpler place with the people I have always known. I want to be able to call upon these memories whenever I need them.

My nephew Harrison at eight months old, bald and toothless, the tip of his nose reddened from a cold caught during his first weeks at daycare, leaning into my side in the big chair near the window as I read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to him once and then twice and then a third time while he slaps lightly at the pages and makes soft sounds, looking up at me with wide eyes and a wet grin before falling slowly to sleep, his head in my lap.

My mom and I standing on a sand-blown sidewalk near Pere Marquette Beach, my hands on her shoulders, the dunes at our backs, watching kitesurfers float in warm October gusts above cresting cerulean waves before drifting back to the surf, their kites—fluorescent greens and yellows—carving slow circles in a cloudless blue that spans forever.

Pushing my mom's wheelchair down a leaf-strewn path in Beechwood Park, Harrison asleep in his stroller, the rows of ancient oaks blocking the sky with their canopy of orange and red and yellow and we stop to take pictures, attempting to capture a single falling leaf or a lasting burst of yellow, faces from the neighborhood nodding greetings as they pass.

Sitting on a leather ottoman in the middle of the living room, the sounds of Broadway musicals from another era playing softly from the stereo, the evening sky dimming over the lake while my mother and I look through old photographs until so much time has passed that I have to get up and turn on table lamps so we can continue.

Smelling dad's stir fry from the kitchen table, candles lit, drinks poured, my siblings and their partners and I laughing with one another, teasing each other about the young things we did long before we called places like Chicago and Dallas and San Francisco home, Harrison asleep in a blanket and the dogs asleep at our feet, exhausted from play.

Gripping my father's hand in the darkness as I pass by his chair to tell him I love him on my way to bed, the sleeping sounds of my mother audible from the couch beside him.