I sat there tonight in Emerson’s room planted with both bare feet to the hardwood floor. My body in the L-position seated on the canvas rocking chair we bought for her almost 2 years ago.

It was dark in the room. A faint, white glow emanated from the overly-bright nightlight suffocated behind the dual-purpose cherry oak space heater used as a secondary and convenient dimmer. The source of warmth equaling the glow from the nightlight but with colors as if the embers of a smoldering campfire were lined perfectly in small vertical pillars.

My daughter was wrapped in a soft, velvet-feeling blanket. One received from her great-grandmother. I rocked us back-and-forth to a rhythm only I could hear in my head. Waves of the ocean, maybe. The beat of “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, maybe.

Her hair was wet, pressed against my left cheek. The unobtrusive¬†scent of her conditioner lingered slightly in the air. I knew she’d be asleep soon. The scene was set.

So, as we wafted to and fro in the cool, dark night, I was just left to reflect and wait.

It’s been a wild few months, as fall typically is for most folks. I’ve had yet another job change. Emerson has been sick, though for the first time since her ear tube procedure. Jess had an amazing photo displayed prominently in an art exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. We’ve been out of town some, bunkered down in the house some. Halloween came and went. We had 5 total doorbell chimes and a pumpkin full of teeth-rotting goodness leftover.

My mind has been busy with work, life, Emerson’s upbringing and praising my wife for all she does at home while still working. Very little of my mind has been idle, of late. Or calm for that matter. Or reflective. Which I can attribute to the lack of blog posts, I suppose. It’s been yet another blur of time gone in a flash.

Today would have been my Dad’s 66th birthday. I sent him a text, that simply read, “Happy Birthday. I miss you.” Of course, I didn’t actually hit send. I didn’t want some junior high kid in Lubbock with his first cell phone reporting me as spam or calling the police about a stalker. But seeing Lee Horn, Sr. at the top of that text message was kind of nice.

I can’t say if it was on the wax or the wane of the sway. As Emmy and I continued the harmonious, albeit much slower, pirate ship ride from the state fair in her favorite reading spot, I looked into the dimmed corner of the room with a shred of hope to see that familiar shape of my Dad. I knew I wouldn’t, of course.

The more important part was that my gaze traversed back from the corner to the mechanically-engineered 72 degree coils. The urban campfire. And I was taken back to where I could really reflect on all the times I appreciated those real mesquite logs engulfed in flames. Rotan, TX to Ballinger, TX. The lease with my Dad.

The memories flooded me as did my eyes. Nothing changed from the peak of that chair’s swing to the trough other than my mindset. It was still just my daughter and I in a rocking chair. But the message Jess had sent earlier about us all taking a family trip during this time of year to the outdoors enticed my mind to think of the future too.

City life is busy. It can consume your time. So my prayer is that we do make it a priority to unplug, disconnect and get out of the city lights. I sincerely wish us to sit around a campfire and do nothing other than talk, stare at the stars, shoot off some fireworks, and maybe even tell a ghost story or two. If nothing else, at least pull a good ol’ fashioned Lee Senior prank. Which will likely involve fireworks.

Live to work or work to live sounds like a great coffee mug, but there are times when that balance gets complicated. Let’s always keep what’s important in perspective.

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