when the stars burst

A completely gratuitous shot of my girls from a really long time ago just because



Tuesday, July 10th


Dinner’s wrapping up. Well, mostly. Brooke has apparently decided that she’s done. We know this because she’s done the fake burp which she now uses to convey the fact. Unexpected, perhaps, but pretty damned funny, especially given that it’s not really a burp as much as a croak.

She runs from the table into the den without another word.

“Excuse me, young lady,” I say to her back. “What are we forgetting please?”

She comes running back to the table. I never cease to be amazed by just how much this child runs. Someday I’m going to put a pedometer on her. I’m guessing a marathon a day.

She puts one cheek back in her chair and cocks her head toward me. Sort of. “Meeeeeeeee I be excused please? Cause I’m all full. *Burp*”

I smile at her and say that she may.

Before I know what’s happened, she’s crawled up and over me and is sitting on my lap. Her long, lean legs hang over the sides of my chair. She is straddling me and we are facing one another. Taking advantage of the proximity, I deposit a kiss on her nose. She grins.

She reaches for both of my hands and laces her fingers through each of them. I will never take this for granted. She holds my hands up on either side of my head, just below my ears, and begins to sway us side to side. And then she sings.

“When the stars burst

The moon says, Hi

And the sun says, Bye

And everything is OK

When the stars burst

Up in the sky

Then it’s nighttime

And you have to go to sleeeeeep.”

We are intertwined – a messy tangle of hands, legs, eyes. God, those big brown eyes. Locked onto mine. The second time in a matter of days. We’re so close I can smell the spaghetti on her breath. The moment is so sweet, so intense, I nearly lose it. As soon as she finishes the song, she tells me that it’s my turn to sing it to her. I happily oblige, adding my own little twist.

“When the stars burst

The moon says, Hi, Brooke

And the sun says Good night, Brooke

And everything is OK

When the stars burst

Up in the sky

Then it’s nighttime

And you have to go to sleeeeeep.”

This goes on for so long that I finally scoop her up in my arms and move us both to the comfy chair in the den. For what has to be a solid fifteen minutes – a lifetime in our world, we interact this way. Alternating singing to one another, changing the words ever so slightly each time. Hands clasped, inches apart.

Eventually we stop singing and she leads me into a series of scripts. I follow happily as she makes her way through Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot! to Ugly Pear Lop Ala Kazool and then a hard right into the Land of the Knock Knock Jokes. “Knock knock,” she says. “Who’s there?” I answer. “Pooch,” she says. “Pooch who?” I ask. “Pooch your arms around me, baby!” she says as we roll into a hug on the chair. Her giggle melts into my hair. I will follow her as long as she will have me.

The moment is divine.

Wednesday, July 11th


It’s getting late. Brooke should already be in bed, but we’re still puttering around getting things ready for tomorrow. No one’s in a panic. It’s summertime, after all.

I reach into Brooke’s drawer to grab a pair of shorts and find one of Katie’s favorite pairs tucked in there by mistake. I grab them and head off to Katie’s room to put them where they belong.

Ten minutes later, Katie’s door creaks open. Luau looks down and finds me on the floor in front of her dresser. I’m holding the shorts, laid across the top of the open drawer where they belong. I am sobbing.

I miss my girl so much that it’s physical. I feel like I left not just my heart at that camp, but my left arm along with it. I’m OK – sort of – until I come in here. Here, in her room, where she isn’t, I don’t have a prayer.

I know I should have run in, dropped the shorts and run out. But I wasn’t strong enough. And here I am, as Katie would say, a big ole blob of Mama mush on her floor.

Brooke appears in the door behind Luau. I know I should do something. Say something. Be stronger than I am. There’s no time to process what I should be doing or how I should do it.

In one fluid moment, Brooke crosses the room, straddles my lap and grabs my hands. Before I can think about what’s happening, we are swaying. And she is singing.

“When the stars burst

The moon says, Hi

And the sun says, Bye

And everything is OK

And you feel better now because the stars burst

And it’s nighttime

And you’re all done crying

And the stars burst

Up in the sky

And then everything is OK now

And you have to go to sleeeeeep.”


She has the voice of an angel.

The moment is so sweet that it aches.


Those of us considered neuro-typical – what do we do in that situation? We wait. We watch. We look for clues. We assess. We ask inane questions. “Are you ok?” (Obviously not, no.) We dance around each other. “Is there anything I can do?” (A tissue, I suppose.) We wait for our cue to enter from stage right. Maybe she needs a moment. When she stops crying, I’ll go talk to her.

Brooke does not.

She doesn’t stop to process, to wonder, to hem, to haw, to ask, “Is this the right thing to do?” She isn’t hampered by convention nor bullsht social construct. She saw her Mama hurting and she reacted in the best way that she knew how. She came to tell me that everything was OK.

And in that moment, it was far, far better than OK.

37 thoughts on “when the stars burst

  1. Oh, my. My heart just swelling and bursting as I read this. That’s some girl you’ve got there. (Both, I know.)

    Jake sing to me like that too, but when he changes the words? It’s to add or substitute “zombies” or “screaming” or “stupid” smiling and giggling all the while. (The other night he sang “Twinkle, twinkle, stupid zombies” to me at bedtime.) Boys. Go figure.

    • Oh my gosh, you nailed it “Boys. Go figure.” They are a whole other creature to steal our hearts aren’t they.

  2. Boy, do I love our kids!! My son (8), Autism, ADHD, ODD…, is the one who comforts me when I am feeling broken. My NT daughter (15), not a word, just a scared look on her face. Love them both!!!

  3. I am speechless. Her progress is mind blowing. Nothing short of amazing. You must still be glowing in the deliciousness of that moment. Holy crap.

  4. Your girl is so sweet and special — you are so blessed. And we are blessed to have you share these private moments with us. Thank you for sharing — I’m crying, but that’s okay! Sorry you’re missing your baby, I could break down just thinking about mine leaving!

  5. The first moment you described was enough to make me teary. The second one sent me into happy, blubbery hysterics. Oh, Jess, such connection! So wonderful. As you said, “far, far better than OK.”

  6. Not enough words, sniff, sniff., for how much hope this gives me for that connection with my bang girl. Love it….thanks ax always for sharing those moments! πŸ™‚

  7. Love is like a boomerang Jess. When you give it (and give it, and give it, and give it; sometimes wondering if it is sinking in or sticking or heard), love will bounce back to you. So wonderful to see your love bouncing back. *sniff sniff*

  8. Feelings of emptiness and fullness all in a matter of minutes. Big things are happening in your home! And thank you again for sharing (what seems like) all of them πŸ™‚

  9. Their love is so pure! Great story and you have to realize the benefit of all the momma and Brooke time while Katie is gone. Doesn’t make the missing her better, but might make you feel a little better?

  10. I had to stop reading 3 times because I was bawling over this one. My heart is bursting, I believe the greatest part about our kids is the pure love with nothing held back. I have so much more to say that I’m feeling but don’t know how to put it into words. I’m just going to say that your girls are beautiful in every way and they have a good example from you.

  11. I love this post (but whew….the missing Katie thing…ugh…I would so be on that floor too, curled up in fetal. your’e such a strong mama!) because I’ve been here….in this exact place, watching my boy, not being hampered by that convention or bullshi*t social construct…and I think that lack of self censorship that you referred to earlier on really is a gift in it’s purest form. A gift, that some days, I wish I had been given and one that I could navigate the world with. Autism’s ability to be in the moment and react without judgement or apprehension, to me, makes the sun shine a little brighter. every. single. day.

  12. Absolutely beautiful!!! What never fails to amaze me is that even though my son does not connect with everybody.. when connected, it is intense and like you, always makes me turn into a pile of mom mush on the floor. Thanks for sharing your beautiful moments with us.

  13. I know everyone is commenting on how wonderful Brooke’s reaction is (and surely it is) but I’m kinda stuck on your pain at Katie being away. My own Kate is away right now with her grandparents and her absence in our house is overwhelming. I feel like part of my soul is missing, and it makes me fear for the day she actually grows up and leaves us! The days they do crawl, but the years fly so fast I can barely catch my breath.

  14. Tears…. I could almost feel your pain of missing Katie and the joy of all the rest! You have such a beautiful way of doing that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s