Mommy, Can You Hold These for Me?

Your first glimpse of my face as I held you in the delivery room will be forgotten.

Your first night sleeping in the crib instead of the bassinet beside my bed will be forgotten.

Your first taste of peas, and your chubby face puckering with disgust, will be forgotten.

Your first steps, tentative and wobbly yet determined, will be forgotten.

Your father’s grin when you first uttered Dada will be forgotten.

You won’t retain long-term memories until the age of seven.

Take heart, little one. I have captured these moments for both of us.

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Copyright © Jamie Gregory 2023


20,000 Steps

Five, four, three, two, one. It’s go time. The crowd surges forward. Muscles twitch, soles collide with earth. One step down, 20,000 to go.

Brian and Jamie at the finish line of the 2022 Salt Fork Half-Marathon Trail Race.

This 25-word story was inspired by completing my first half-marathon trail race with my husband on April 23, 2022, at Salt Fork State Park. Here’s a photo of us drenched in sweat at the finish line. We could barely walk but we were high on adrenaline and pride.

I hated running for most of my life despite the fact that I played soccer from the time I was a toddler until I was a junior in high school. As I get older, I’m facing the reality that my body has an expiration date but it can be extended if I’m proactive about preserving my health. The stakes are higher than they used to be when vanity and competition were the driving forces behind my exercise habits as an adolescent. I’m a wife and a mother now and I’m determined to make sure that my family is stuck with me for as long as possible.

Trail running has also become an escape and a release — A temporary escape into nature and away from the daily pressure of life. A release of stress, worry, and anxiety. When my feet are pounding the trail, external stressors melt away and I’m forced to focus inward on self-talk, breathing, pace, and heart rate.

Trail running has enabled me to channel my energy into something physical and process the mental and emotional load of life. It has empowered me and given me the confidence to tackle hard things both on and off the trail.

Another half-marathon trail race will be on my calendar in 2023 and the training has already begun.

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Copyright © Jamie Gregory 2023

The Last Book My Father Read

I found it resting on his nightstand where he left it, the last book my father read, bookmarked yet unfinished, just like his life.

This 25-word story was inspired by my late father. At first glance, seeing him in worn blue jeans, a ball cap, and leather boots weathered by labor, one might not have assumed that he was a bookworm. He once told me wistfully that if he hadn’t gone to college for accounting and fallen into carpentry he would’ve enjoyed being an English teacher.

I remember him recounting his love for reading the classics, like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as an adolescent and how he would diligently look up the definition of every unfamiliar word he stumbled upon. It was that same diligence that he used to put me through spelling bee boot camp in elementary school resulting in a top-five finish and his tough exterior washing away with tears of pride.

I hold dear the fond memories of him at my bedside reading aloud from literary delights such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Magic Kingdom for Sale.

I’m not sure what book he was reading, if any, when cancer ended his life at the age of sixty — but his love of literature lives on in me and my own children.

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Copyright © Jamie Gregory 2023