There’s a sweet spot between 6 and 7:30am, and if I catch it, the whole day goes better.

It’s tempting, of course, to sleep in on weekends and holidays, and the occasional “make the spouse deal with it” work/school morning. But if I sleep past 8, while it feels nice in the moment, the rest of the day has a sluggish overlay and I never quite catch up with myself.

This morning I had planned to sleep in. But starting just after 6 the light, the restless dog, and some small voice in my head started up: you know you’ll have a better Thanksgiving if you get up now and go for a walk. I was cornered, and while I didn’t specifically feel I’d made the decision, it was clear that a decision had been made.

I drove the dog and myself down to the bay to one of my favorite spots. A walk out along the edge of the Albany Bulb gives views of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Marin, Richmond. There are the islands: Treasure, Alcatraz, and Angel. There’s a great view of the part of Caesar Chavez park where we laid dad’s ashes, and practically a view to mom’s resting place, though you have to see through the Golden Gate, and up a little to Pt Reyes; not quite in plain sight, but right there.

We walk right by my Uncle’s scattering spot, near the statue of Don Quixote, sitting and perhaps daunted by his tilting at windmills (maybe he’s resting up to charge again). My creative uncle would most appreciate the art installation that’s going up all over the Bulb all the time. A tower of brick I’d never seen sits on a rise above the junkyard scrap ship and driftwood dragon. There’s art there, everywhere.

I know the math goes in only one direction. Over the years there will be more and more people we remember and miss. 1989 to 1995 there was a rush to the exits, and then the past few years I’ve had — I should say we all have had — another cluster of the leaving.

Our hearts are buoyed by the love of all those people. The heaviness and light mix, sometimes lift.

Another loss I’m feeling is really a gain in disguise: my children are feeling mature and independent to themselves! At 11 and 14 they’re not really ready to do it on their own, but they sure want to try, and the less Dad is hovering over things the better. This is success, the goal of parenting being that they’re eager to face life on their own. But the list of things I’m no longer needed to do is long, and I can see my jobs dwindling towards the core: rides and cash.

That makes the connections we do have sweeter. Bereft that his sister was off at a basketball team game, Jaden agreed to come to an evening movie the other night, and in the excited aftermath of the new Ghostbusters, just scary enough to be thrilling and funny, he was exhilarated to roll down the windows as we got onto the freeway home, a treat neither his sister nor his papa can bear. So as the howling wind filled the car, we both know it’s our special time, loud and happy.

I know I’ll hold it in my heart forever, and this morning the memory keeps me stepping along the path, chasing the dog and the morning.