One by one, she pulled the horses out of the box. She laid them carefully on the floor next to it, then immediately began the process of putting them back in. I sat with her. I didn’t speak. I watched.

One big horse. One little one. One big horse. One little one. And on it went.

She was murmuring while she worked. I could barely hear her at first, but as I settled into my own silence, her words became clear.

“Here I am, baby horse” she was saying over and over. “Come to Mama. You’re okay now. Here I am baby horse. Come to Mama. You’re okay now.”

And with that, she would set a little horse on top of a big one. Some of them were hard to balance. She worked at it until they stayed put. And again. And again. Until all the baby horses were lying atop their Mamas.

After finishing with the groceries, Luau came back to check on us.

“I think she just missed her Mama,” he said.

I smiled at him.

“Oh, honey,” I thought, “we’re way ahead of you.”

— From yesterday’s post, You’re Okay


Be still and know that I am.

– Psalm 46:10


It has taken me a long time to learn that one of the greatest gifts that I can give to my child, and in turn to myself, is silence.

I am built to talk. To process thoughts in real time, out loud. It’s what I do. It’s how I’m hard-wired.

I like words. I trust them. I like the way they feel, they way they sound. When tension runs high, I run to them for solace.

Brooke does not. At least not the same way.

Words often serve as more of a roadblock for her than a pathway. Where I find them soft and comforting in times of distress, it’s clear that she finds them sharp and awkward. Too many of them filling the air in rapid fire, no matter how well-intended, become weapons, not tools.

And so it is that I’ve taught myself to stop talking. To settle into silence. To trust that our connection is stronger than the words that I might use to describe it. To believe that love and care and comfort can be conveyed within the quiet. That sometimes, indeed, the quiet itself is the best way to convey them.

I’ve learned to watch. To listen. To hear. No, listening and hearing are not the same. I’ve learned to have faith in the power of sharing space, of BEING together. Of not needing words as proof of that which can’t really can’t be put into them anyway.

And so I give my daughter the gift of silence.

Or, better said, she’s given it to me.

Because what I see and hear and learn and feel inside the stillness is, well, everything.


Ed note: With deepest gratitude to my dear Barb, whose beautiful book, I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection helped to teach this talker just how much she would hear when she shut the hell up. In that vein, in Barb’s infinite generosity, she has decided to give away five MORE of her books to us! This time they will be audiobooks, so you don’t even need to actually read them to take in their awesomeness! The first five people who complete –> THIS <– form will win. Easy as that. Told you she was awesome.

9 thoughts on “silence

  1. Yes, you have learned a great lesson and it means everything. Great job, once again. You and Barb are both awesome!

    Love you,

  2. I have learned this too. The need to fill the silence is now filled with my silent awe as I watch my kids do what they do best…teach me. Thank you and Barb for this.

  3. I guess I woke up at 4:45 on the west coast for a great reason! looking forward to exercising and train-commuting to Barb’s wit and wisdom in audio.

  4. i wanted to comment with silence, but then that would mean not leaving a comment at all, so i instead decided to leave this rambling comment instead as a show of how much i enjoyed this post. the value of silence…and the meaning it holds for those who find words to be roadblocks…simply cannot be overstated.

  5. Thank you for the book recommendation. I am sharing the book with our friends and family. Barb articulates so beautifully what I have always suspected: people with autism have a rich interior life and want to be a part of their communities.

  6. Love this post…as a mom of three boys, I have learned that less is more when it comes to words. We just went for a hike yesterday, and I realized when we got back that there was very little actually said, and yet we were engaged together the whole time, looking at nature, chasing birds and bunnies, throwing rocks in a stream. Very different from the house I grew up in, with mom and sister talking constantly!

Leave a Reply to akbutler Cancel reply

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

You are commenting using your 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