we leave as family

Note: Image descriptions are at the bottom of the post.

Dear Team Brooke,


Six years ago, Luau and I were terrified. We were clinging to the door of the preschool for dear life, unable to imagine that our beautiful, brilliant, complex girl would be able to survive elementary school. 


Today she will walk across the stage and graduate, and though we’d be lying if we said we had no fear, it’s different now. Because of you.


You taught our girl not just that people believed in her, but how to believe in herself. 


photo 5

You taught her so much more than what you were tasked with teaching, you taught her that she could learn.

photo 4

You taught her not just to listen to others, but how to listen to herself, and to ask for what she needs in order to be successful.

photo 3

You gave her words. My God, just think about that. You gave her words.

photo 2

You taught her how to invite others into a world in which she so desperately wanted company but didn’t know how to find it. 

photo 1

You taught her that she was worthy of being heard.

photo 5

You searched for the core of her. You tossed convention to the wind and stepped out of your own comfort to find it. 

photo 4

You celebrated not just her accomplishments, but her.

You taught her to do the same.

photo 3

You showed her that she belonged.

photo 2

You fought for her, even when speaking the truth was fraught with risk.

photo 1


You sought not just to teach her but to learn from her.


You gave her respect, and it is that for which we are most grateful. 


In the end, you gave our girl so much more than your job required. You gave her the tools to build a foundation upon which she will expand for the rest of her life. 


You began as teachers, you became friends, we leave as family.


photo 1-5


I wrote the words last June.

I took the pictures last night.

Ms J was Brooke’s aide from 3rd grade until 5th. She never stopped believing in her. She never stopped presuming her competence, even when others –even when we — were questioning it. Ms J never wavered.

Every day, Brooke was met with Respect, Faith, Trust and Love.

Every day, she was told, and shown, that there was nothing she couldn’t do.

She began as a teacher.

She became a friend.

She will always be family.


Images are photos of Brooke and Ms J playing together after dinner at our house last night. In two series, Brooke is showing her a couple of new favorite videos. In another they are giving each other bunny ears for the photos and Brooke finally rests her hand on top of Ms J’s head. In the last, they are giggling as they stick their fingers in one another’s ears at Brooke’s request, as you do. The final image is a photo of Katie and Ms J standing together by the door. When Katie heard Ms J getting ready to leave, she ran downstairs for a hug. 

6 thoughts on “we leave as family

  1. Thank you again, Ms J. You will always be remembered as a treasure in Brooke’s life and, therefore, in all of ours. Thankfully, I hope, as I’m sure everyone does, that they’ll be more dinners and outings to be shared together.

    Love you,

  2. People like this are sadly few and far between. Brooke is so lucky to have had Mrs. J in her life for those years. The fact that she has become like family is not at all surprising.

  3. Beautiful. We all have our Miss J’s to be thankful for, I suspect. I know we do. And don’t think I didn’t notice the Bruins gear :). You know we have a saying: “hockey people are good people.”

  4. So thankful for Mrs. C. who helped give our girl words and Mr. Y who has helped her read them. Thanks to the paras, O.T.’s, P.T.’s, and speech therapists. Mostly, we have had great teams!

  5. Oh my, this made me smile and made me cry. Smile because people like her are such precious treasures in our children’s lives and ours as well. Cry because we too, just said goodbye to one of these treasured souls ourselves. Beautiful words and pictures.

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