If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I. ~ Michel de Montaigne


It’s bedtime. Brooke’s room is dark, but for the bluish stars that glow on the walls and the ceiling, cast by Barbie the Turtle.

We are lying on the floor. She has declared that this is where she will sleep tonight. I wonder if she’s protecting herself. If maybe, despite not having the words to tell me, she really did have the seizure that I suspected last night. If perhaps she feels safer here on the floor.

I decide to stop overthinking it.

We do the tappies. One for every year, then one for good luck. The eleventh is what it always is – a hand on her face.

She asks, as she does every night, “How’d you do eleven?” and I answer, as I do every night, “In yo’ mush.”

She giggles, as she always does, and asks, as she does every night, “What’s my mush?”

I answer, just as I always do, “Your face.”

We do our kissing hands, then one last kiss and a long, squeezy hug.

The routine is done. We both know it’s time for me to go. I don’t move.

She asks a question I’ve never heard before.

“Why do you love me?”

This isn’t in the script. Nor any script that I know of. For all of the incredible progress that she’s made with asking questions, whys are still rare. This is big.

“Oh, baby,” I say, “there are so many reasons that I love you. Want me to tell you some of them?”

She pulls my arm across her chest and tucks it under her chin, then murmurs, “Uh huh.”

“I love you because I was born to love you. Because I was made to be your mama and loving you is like breathing – it’s just what I do. And I love you because you’re funny and smart and kind and because you make the whole world better just by being in it. I love you because you change people — you show them how to be better — to love better and live better and be better friends to each other. But really I love you because you are an incredible kid and I couldn’t be prouder that you’re mine.”

I’m amazed that she’s still with me. That she hasn’t balked at too many words, too much emotion … too much.

But she hasn’t retreated an inch. She’s here.

“So why do you love me?” I ask.

She’s looking away from me, but I can hear the smile in her answer. “Because you’re my mama, silly.”

She yanks my arm, taking me with her as she rolls onto her side. I let myself curl around her like a spoon.

We both know it’s time for me to go.

I don’t move.

20 thoughts on “why

  1. Brooke is incredible and has certainly made be better because I’m her Grammy. Leaps and bounds, Jess. Leaps and bounds. Brooke wants to know “why”.

    Love you,

  2. I, like my sons with autism, love things that are constant. Things that you can count on. One of the things I love about your blog is that every time I click on the comments section there is one from your mom. I love that constant love!

  3. About to leave for work and this was a beautiful start to my morning. ALMOST made me cry… fighting tears pretty hard. This was lovely and you two are lovely. Thank you for this this morning. Damn, made me cry!!

  4. Insanely wonderful. Thank you for sharing such a perfect moment. (And once again, your writing leaves me in a puddle.)

  5. So often when I come here every day, I leave in tears. Not always sad, but you manage to move me with your words almost every. day.

    You were meant to be their mama, and you were meant to be a writer. Thank you for sharing your heart and touching ours daily.

  6. This is so beautiful and perfect and wonderful! I had a really precious moment last weekend with my 9 year old granddaughter. Words don’t come easy for her either, particularly spontaneous words. She had just come over and initiated one of her priceless hugs. As I stood there with my arms around her I told her that I love her nice hugs. And there it was, in her tiniest voice, so quiet, “I love too”.

    So happy for you and your girl!

    • I’ve just finished reading Jess’ post and have that lump in my throat! Then the tears swelled when I read your comment. My grand is also 9, expressing herself is coming slowly, and the unsolicited “I love you Grammy” during a phone call, none the less, is forever etched in my heart! And these are tears of pure joy…

  7. I loved everything about this post. It’s so hard to leave the room some nights. You just don’t want to let go of the beautiful moment or you want them to feel safe or you need to do it for yourself because there’s just no place you’d rather be.

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