right here


My mom’s 70th birthday party, yesterday 

(Happy Birthday, Mom)


The house is full of people. Brooke is managing, but it hasn’t been easy. She’s found quiet corners to which to escape with her iPad — at the bottom of the stairs, on the floor in front of an unused door, on the beds in the kids’ room upstairs. We’ve walked together down my mom’s quiet street when she had to get out of the house. Later, we spent time foraging in the yard for sticks, then sitting on the walkway and stripping them of their bark. All while the party went on inside the house.

She’s joined us for cake – the great motivator, but she’s still anxious. I’ve found a spot for her to eat in the kitchen away from the crowd.

I am crouched next to her chair, my arm around her back. I nuzzle into her shoulder and ask a question.

“Who loves you?”

“You do,” she says through a mouthful of chocolate cake.

“How do you know?” I ask playfully. This isn’t in the script. I have no idea how she’ll answer. 

She works the next piece of cake onto her fork, carefully avoiding the dreaded icing. She doesn’t stop what she’s doing. There’s no turning to nor looking at me. But she answers.

“Because you’re right here,” she says.


There is so much that I can’t do for my girl. I can’t make crowds go away at will. I can’t make random noises less loud or more predictable. No matter how hard I try, I can’t make the world any less overwhelming.

But this – this I can do.

I can be here.

And I’ll be damned. My girl just told me that not only is it enough, it’s love.


33 thoughts on “right here

  1. Yes, that certainly is love! You’re with her every inch of the way and she always knows that! Thanks for being there for me yesterday.

    Love you,

  2. its so amazing when the tell you they get it – they get what you do for them. I get what you do for us. Thanks for sharing your amazing family with us 🙂

  3. Right beside me sits my favorite (and only) granddaughter who also knows. She has pink tipped dark blonde hair! (Her mom now reads DOAM, too!) ((Wash out color.))

  4. I love this, on so many levels. All we can do is hope and pray that just “being there” is enough. When we can’t do anything to stop the anxiety, all we can do is be present, be THERE. She sees how much you love her. She knows you’ll do anything for her. She TOLD you so. That’s just amazing.
    There’s nothing harder than seeing the panic on their faces, and feeling helpless. Cymbie doesn’t have the words yet, but it’s nice to know that she might find my presence a comfort to her. That she feels how much I love her. I hope she does.

  5. Through welled-up eyes, I type to you that you have made ‘it all’ OK in one small, yet poignant, post. I shall take into my heart the words of your beautiful Brooke, and emblazon them on my soul. Next time I’m feeling low, or completely full of doubt (like, always), I will remind myself of her sweet words when looking at my non-verbal son who can’t tell me them himself. It’s my greatest goal, “to just be there”, and it’s nice knowing our kids get it evidently. Thanks Jess… such a short story, with such great meaning. ♥

  6. Always right to the heart of things.. and my feelings. Here’s the question I keep asking myself though.. I feel the same as you, I can be there for my son and I want to, however, I can I be there for him, always be there for him, and still find time for that dreaded oxygen mask.. OR the bigger question, how can I get that oxygen mask without feeling guilty for not being there for him? I struggle with this question all the time and also with his age, 18, with how much independence I should be giving him and NOT be there all the time.. give him his space as an adult.

  7. Happy Birthday to your mom! But it seems as though you got the best present!! I just loved this so much, it’s ridiculous!!

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