Hill Mountain

There’s a hill that’s not far from where my family and I used to live. I’d take the kids there on their bikes; to the place where dreams and imaginations played. I called it Hill Mountain.

My kids were small and we enjoyed adventures together. It seemed like when our kids were young we adopted the habit of naming things. This helped us share our adventure and gave the kids something to call a place they enjoyed visiting.

Hill Mountain is a grassy slope that slides away from the parking lot of a nearby hospital. The hill horseshoes around an island of evergreen trees and dead branches. We loved to come to Hill Mountain and have picnics, read books, and stare death in the eye as we recklessly hurled ourselves from top to bottom and then through the trees, under branches, and back around … up the hill, to do it all over again.

It’s such a small haven. Unknown to anyone else.There is no sign or monument forever touting the glories of such a place, only memories of love and laughter filed away in our dreams and memories.

To give you some idea of its scale: from the crest to the bottom, the mountain stands at about six and a half feet hight and gentle rolls downward for about twenty or so feet. It’s NOT a mountain. It’s barely even a hill. But what the kids and I made of it through our shared joy and togetherness was something majestic.

Hill Mountain, as I mentioned, slopes down from the parking lot of a hospital. It’s actually a campus of several buildings devoted to health … mental health. It’s a psychiatric campus where people go to get counseling. It also has the largest inpatient population in West Michigan.


My son is there right now. I am sitting in the parking lot on the edge of Hill Mountain remembering the free flowing giggles of unbothered children. He’s in outpatient care, so he gets to come home in the afternoon. My son who used to roll down the hill and throw grass into the wind and hair of his siblings. He has a new mountain to face. But he does not face this mountain alone. He’s going to be ok. The mountain is not as big as it seems to us right now. He will land. He will laugh again. He will brave new heights and conquer new fears in time. And, until then, he and I still have Hill Mountain to remind us of unhindered love and carefree days.

Joseph E. Reid

Executive Director, Broken People


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