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.