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It’s Christmas day and the room is full and I’m in the corner fumbling with my Christmas and helping make sure everything unfolds as it should – interjections to keep the conversation lively, games that spring up just as quiet starts to creep, food, sugar and ale in abundance (but not so much abundance as to spoil the mood)…  A voice-over breaks into the reality show continuously running in my head and says “This is MY first year to watch over the family …”

(A counterclockwise turn followed by a click turns my attention down.)

Nobody is paying attention to me.  I raise my new toy.  Snap, an instance is frozen.  Snap, another stands still.  Snap, the third catches her laugh, hand to forehead, as her head flies back, eyes sparkling like a diamonds.

(My attention turns down to review.)

I scroll through the pictures that seem to dispel reason of time; the girl in the photos is not my own; she’s grown while mine still calls me daddy and plays games and tells me about stuff (except school and boys) and gets upset so you have to say “are you hungry?” and she says “yes, will you get me some goldfish?”  Mine’s still my baby girl while the girl in the pictures has features that have started to coalesce and her gaze is confident and bold with a smile that conveys pure joy and eyes radiating with love.

(My mind starts to wander.)

A collage of images from the last fourteen years explodes into existence and evolves into a fog providing a shifting backdrop showing a birth with parents in bliss, a first birthday – with grandfathers galore (and no more), a rock concert a recital and a Choral Spring Spectacular! Motionless in time hangs each memory because time can never be undone.  And then there’s the pictures…

(My mind comes back into focus.)

She is beautiful; perfect; the girl that will slay many hearts.  Her soul has an intelligence beyond her years that’s vivid in her glow and the three pictures capture it all.    Scrolling back and forth through these pics, I see this instance; not the person I know through my lens filtered by yesterday and and last week and last month and last year…

(I notice the conversation starts to wain.)

“Who wants some cookies and a top-off or warm-up?” I call out as I raise from the floor and hear responses of the pains of overindulgence and claims that not another bite could be had “but the ones with the powdered sugar were particularly good and were pretty thin and while you’re gonna be in there, will you fill this up to about half?”

(I head towards the kitchen.)

“Will you get me some goldfish, dad?” comes from my little girl, eyes still shining and smile artificially big because shes knows I will; I will; I always will; “And maybe a little more water?”  Of course I notice she called me dad and not daddy and of course the picture in my head of a girl much older than I know pops into my head; the picture of a girl who will always be my little girl but not really.  “Of course baby-girl”.

(Love and pride and feelings of loneliness for the little girl that was my little girl and no more sets.)