Eight. My God, how did we get to eight?

It’s been a ride, hasn’t it, baby girl? Yes, I’m still going to call you baby girl. Sorry, honey, but eight ain’t gonna change that. Heck, eighty won’t change that either. You will ALWAYS be your mama’s baby girl.

As I snuck into your room this morning, you watched me, didn’t you? Those big, wide eyes followed me as I brought the balloons in one by one. I tried so hard to be quiet, but we both know your mama would never make it as a cat burglar. So with each trip in and out of your room, you watched, quiet as a church mouse, but taking it all in. There’s never a moment that you’re not watching listening absorbing processing is there? ‘A mind like a steel trap’ as your papa would say. It’s all in there, isn’t it, baby? Eight years of life experiences catalogued and stored away for later use in that incredible little head of yours. I am in awe of your capacity to remember it all.

Eight year, my God. A lifetime. I’ll never forget that morning, eight years ago today. Please, give me my baby. Please. I just need to hold my baby. Your temperature was too low, they said. I’m sorry, Jess, they just need to keep her a little while longer. It was so hard for Daddy to have to keep telling me that it just wasn’t time yet. And I just couldn’t hear it. NO, I NEED my girl. And she needs me. I felt so empty, so wrong without you. Nine months we’d shared this body. NIne tumultuous months. I did my best, baby, but pregnancy was never my strong suit. And then it was time. Time for me to hold you. And I couldn’t.

And finally, finally they brought you to me. FInally I held you to my chest and laid you down exactly where you belonged. And I held on for dear life to my beautiful, perfect baby. Ten long fingers and ten tiny toes and those eyes – those giant saucers taking it all in, even then. I wonder if somewhere you’ve catalogued even those days.

People came and went. The nurses were determined to bring you to the nursery, but Mama wouldn’t have it. She’ll sleep with me. They worried that I wasn’t sleeping, taking time to heal. They were right, but it didn’t matter. Those nights, those four first nights of your life were OUR time. No one there but us. I wouldn’t give those nights up for anything. Sleep is overrated.

God, baby, even then – even before I had any idea who you would be – I loved you so much it filled the room, raced down the hall and flew out the doors of the hospital – a love too big to be contained by bricks and mortar. It spiraled straight up to God that day and came back on the wings of angels. There is nothing on this earth bigger or more perfect than my love for you, Brooke. Nothing.

Over time, you changed everything. You sure as heck changed me. Thank God. You changed the mother I thought I would be into the one that I needed to be. And it wasn’t just me. You changed your daddy and your sister and everyone who came into our world. You laughed at what we thought mattered and showed us what really did. You stretched us past our insecurities and doubts to a place painted with a technicolor brush. With the vivid colors of a life lived awake, alive, aware. You pulled us into hearing beyond the background noise, tuning in to a totally different frequency where there IS no background. Where every utterance is crisp and clear and has equal meaning and weight and beauty.

You made us cry with your anguish yes, but Oh, my sweet girl how you’ve made us laugh! And God when you laugh – well I would swear the heavens break open and flood the earth with joy when you let it loose. How did I describe it once? The laugh that starts with her shoulders and takes her whole body along for the ride. The laugh that sets her eyes on fire and whose sheer energy could launch a rocket ship and send it into orbit. The contagious laugh that leaves an electric happiness in its wake. There is no greater gift than that laugh.

I know you won’t believe me when I tell you how much you affect everyone around you. How you bring us all – every single human being who is blessed to walk with you, even for a short while – to a higher place. Or how you’ve started a veritable revolution of compassion and tolerance and community. Or how you’ve cracked open even the hardest hearts and made them FEEL something.

I know, I’m your mom. It’s my job to say that, right? I can see you reading this some day (still, I pray for that day) and rolling your eyes. Fine, you don’t believe me? Fair enough. How about this?

I can’t really explain what has happened between Brooke and me these last six weeks but it has been life changing for me. Never before has a child (other than my own) crept into my heart as quickly and stealthily as your daughter has. I have watched in complete amazement as she works and works to connect with the world.

Beyond the repetition and the grasping attempts to pull from her limited repertoire of conversation starters, there is this aura that is solely Brooke’s. It is an invisible exhale, a breath of color, warmth, love, tenderness and song. And then, in the midst of the ‘oh yeahs’ and missed nuances, the sensory overloads – there are these scintillating seconds when with just the slightest eye contact and a well-rehearsed smile, a tuck of the hair behind the ears, she pours her love around you the best she knows how. It makes my eyes well, my hair stand and my heart sing …

…I can’t explain it really. I just know she has touched my soul … She is so brave and has kept me honest. I need to come out of my comfort zone more often with even the tiniest amount of the courage that she shows each day.

Do you believe me now? Cause those word aren’t mine, baby. They came from Miss T who had known you for SIX WEEKS when she wrote them. I don’t make this stuff up, Brooke. You CHANGE people. One by one, you crawl into their souls and you CHANGE them. I don’t know how you do it. I’m betting that you don’t either. It’s simply who you are.

I know I tell you all the time, baby girl, but please don’t let the repetition dull the enormity of the feeling behind the words. I am so proud of you. I know it hasn’t been an easy road these last eight years. In many ways it will get harder still. But you will rise to every challenge with grace and humor and that indefatigable spirit that ensures that all is possible. And you will have your mama by your side every step of the way – crying, cheering, rejoicing. And once in a while screaming, “That’s my girl! The one right there on the left. The one changing the world!”

Happy eighth birthday, my sweet Brooke.

Your mama loves you more than anything.

42 thoughts on “eight

  1. OMG! I have goosebumps reading this story. Such well written, heartfelt, honest dialouge will touch any mothers soul.
    Thanku for sharing
    I wish you and your family peace and good times.

  2. beautiful…from the very beginning. Sounds like you refueled your “tank” too. Good job! Happy day to all 🙂

  3. Happy Birthday, Brooke. You sure found the right family to be born into. Happy Birthday to you and to your amazing mama, who loves you and your sister more than anything and sure knows how to write about it.

  4. Yep, add me to the list – she has changed me too. Happy, happy birthday to Princess Brooke and congratulations to her Momma for giving birth 8 years ago today to the beautiful, magical and inspiring Princess.

  5. Happy Birthday, “Princess Brooke.” So many are so grateful for you, and some of that gratitude is selfish; without you, we might not have each other. But you are a gift in and of yourself – your smiles, your talents, and your struggles – they bless this Earth each and every day. May God bless you to have the best year yet!

  6. I’ve lost my words. This was so powerful and beautiful bringing me back to your birth as well as Katie’s and Brooke’s.

    Happy Birthday to our darling granddaughter, Brooke.


  7. In Mexico, we would sing,

    “Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
    A las muchachas bonitas, te las cantamos a ti,
    Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
    Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

    Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,
    Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte,
    Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,
    Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.”

    Rough Translation:

    “This is the morning song that King David sang
    To the beautiful girls, and we’re singing it for you
    Wake up, my dear, wake up, look it is already dawn
    The birds are already singing and the moon has set

    How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you
    We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you
    The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its light
    Get up in the morning, look it is already dawn.”

    Happy Birthday, Brooke. May your year be one filled with joy and laughter.


    Jonas’ Mama

  8. (First, I will share that they took my baby from her home inside me and it was neary 10 hours before I held her for the first time. The longest 10 hours of my life.)

    Jess, a very happy birthday to your baby girl AND your entire family. Today (and every day in this village)is a celebration of her and all she is – it’s also a celebration of the gift she is to the world, and a celebration of your stewardship of that precious gift that is ‘Brooke’.

  9. How do you manage to ALWAYS make me cry? I feel the same about my little girl, she is only 3. Your words are so beautiful. You move me to tears with every one. Thanks, and Happy Birthday to your amazing, sweet, strong, beautiful girl!

  10. What a wonderful present for your daughter…. beautiful words for a beautiful little girl!! Happy Birthday Brooke, you truly are an amazing little angel!! xox

  11. I don’t think I have ever read anything that touched me more. Wow. I don’t even know this amazing little girl, but in a strange way, feel that I do. I feel that in my youngest girl who turned 11 just yesterday. Her eyes as big as moons and a heart that is so squishy and soft….that also struggles for the world to see and feel and understand how it all feels so different to her. This ferocity of love that I know my 3 year old ASD boy that, although he doesn’t yet speak, and I know he will, can stop you in an instant with a knowing look. It’s in there, and as a mom, this is just something you know. It has changed us. So much. But I wouldn’t take a zillion dollars to change how its grown me. Thank you for sharing. You have a gift from God and a purpose to shape our lives…..those of us that ‘know’ you only through this blog. It’s changing me too. Thank you.

  12. This is my first time commeing on your posts. You are a breath of fresh air each morning, afternoon or evening. Thank you for sharing your family journey. We are all better people for it. Happy Birthday to Brooke! Hugs to all of you. Have an incredible day!

  13. Once again you’ve brought me to tears, and once again you’ve made me want to meet you, Brooke and Katie in person and really get to know you, and bring our families together! All in due time, right?


  14. Beautiful as always, Jess!! Happy Birthday to your sweetie !! Lots of good wishes to you, Luau, and Katie!! Brooke is lucky to have such a loving family who will always fight for her!! Have fun partying!!!

  15. “You changed the mother I thought I would be into the one that I needed to be” – I know exactly what you mean. I have had the same thought about Nigel, many times.

    Happy Birthday to your sweet baby girl! Enjoy! xo

  16. There are no words Jess because you have taken them all and painted a masterpiece,as always.
    You bring me to tears as you have with your love since your birth so I know, baby girl, I know just what you feel. I see you in the same ways that you see your girls I just don’t have the eloquence to express it as you do.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE and you too Jess.
    Love you all,

    • Dad (may I call you Dad? I feel like I know you!), I beg to differ. You absolutely have the eloquence to express those thoughts, that love. You nearly always reduce many of us to puddles of gooey mush with the outpourings of love. We’d like to adopt you. (hugs) – Niksmom/Beth

  17. Jess -you have me sitting in a restaurant crying into my soup. This is full of so much love…it drips off of the page. Brooke had changed an touched me deeply. No wonder I’ve come to love her. She’s an Ares like me! Happy Birthday to you!

  18. Happy belated 8th Brooke!

    And you are so right Jess. She does have a way of creeping into and changing hearts. Mine is one of them.

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