all of you

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{image is a photo of Brooke that I took last summer on the way home from the beach. The photo is actually of my (passenger side) side-view mirror, in which Brooke can be seen with her head out the back window, her face in the wind. She is smiling. Luau is driving.}

Tuesday night …

Brooke and I are in the car, on the way to the special educator award ceremony. It’s a beautiful evening. The kind of night that makes me grateful to live in New England – not a thought that our climate often inspires.

The radio is on, tuned not to my usual country station, but to Brooke’s favorite – a mix of music whose tag line is “Boston’s best variety.” I’m still not quite over celebrating the moment that she told me that she liked it. That she didn’t want me to turn it off because she liked the song they were playing. It was just a few months ago. We were on our way to Miss Alysia’s play house and the song was Royal. These are the things we remember.

I hear my girl squeal behind me. I glance in the side view mirror and there she is – her face out the window, tilted up to the sun, her eyes closed, her hair trailing behind her in the wind. I am overcome by her joy.

“Could you turn it up, please?” she asks.

I snap out of my revery and process her words … turn it up ?

Ah, the radio. Right.

“Sure, baby,” I say.

I crank it up and she squeals happily into the wind.

John Legend sings.

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me

The words.

Oh, the words.

My mind races in and out of the maze of perfect words, meant to hold something so different and yet …

All of me loves all of you.

Yes!

Yes!

The joy builds and the sun shines and the wind blows away fear and my girl squeals again and it’s all too big for the car and it swirls and dives through the air and I just don’t want it to end.

Katie words, two years ago.

“Mama, I know this is going to sound a little weird to you,” Katie said, “but I like your psoriasis.”

I have no idea what to say.

“It’s part of you, Mama. It makes cool patterns on your skin, ya know? And most of all, it makes you you. So I like it.”

I try to process it, but I can’t. I feel ridiculous.

Years of shame drown in a tsunami of my little girl’s love and all that has just come with it. I love you, she said. All of you. Not despite the parts you’d rather leave behind. No, I love those too, because they are you.

And John Legend sings.

All of me loves all of you.

My girl squeals in delight.

I drink her in.

And I am endlessly grateful.

9 thoughts on “all of you

  1. Happy leaky eyes. I love that song – it came on the radio this morning on my way to work. Our baby-love heals a lot, doesn’t it? 🙂

  2. My Aspie boy loves putting his face out the window too…he wondered why the dog liked it so much, and discovered that he does too – the sensations of going fast, and the air flowing over your face…joy in different places, but still joy!

  3. I love All of Quentin; his autism, his Crohn’s, his ostomy bag, his scars on his mid section (they look like abs and he didn’t even have to lift weights =} ). I love all of him, and he loves all of me. Thanks Jess. You always remind us of the wonderful things in our life. By the way, we are still in the hospital, 11 months yesterday, and we are considering another surgery next week. Lots to think about. Lots of prayers to say. Wish us luck. This could be the surgery he needs to get out of here and heal completely yaaaa!!!

  4. If only I could pen words to feelings and events like you do, Jess. What a gift it is to read your writing! I think I’ve said this multiple times already, but I don’t care – you have given my life so much perspective, just by the honesty and eloquence in your writing.

    Thank you – for everything!

  5. What is it about their joy that draws you in, makes you feel warm from the inside out? It always amazes me! It feels as if when he is happy that the world is perfect and wonderful… I love that feeling more than I can ever express!

  6. I am not a mom, but I am a special educator. I had an amazing privilege of working with a kiddo with Autism for almost 10 years and he truly became like family to me and I learned so much from him! Much like the things you post that if only everyone could see the world would be a better place. I taught middle school and am now an EI. I have only families with kids with Autism and I learn so much from your blog that I have used to empower and encourage other families! So I say all that to say thank you for sharing your life and Brooke with all of us!

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