they ain’t heavy


{Image is a photo that I posted here just a few days ago of Katie giving Brooke a piggy back ride on the grass in front of Grandma Noe’s tree. It’s just too perfect for this post.} 

My dad’s voice cracked on the phone. “Do you see how far she’s come, Jessie?” he asked.

I was toast.

I’d lost count of how many times I’d already cried in this conversation anyway.

“You know, Pop,” I said through the tears, “It’s funny. I used to be so afraid of the future. I had no idea what it might bring and the not knowing was terrifying.”

I took a breath, trying to gather myself.

“And I still don’t know. I mean, I literally have NO idea what Brooke’s future might look like. None. But I”m okay with that now. It just means that there are too many possibilities to know which ones will bear fruit, you know?”

“Uh huh,” he said. “No parents really know what their children’s future will bring.”

“True,” I said, “but they think they do. And there’s some comfort in thinking you know. Of course, that sometimes means a hard fall when they find out how wrong they were, but nonetheless, there’s ease in not knowing what you don’t know.”

We talked about Katie. About how I can picture her in her first apartment someday, heading out in a whirlwind of activity to make it to an audition somewhere.

“Do you remember that Neil Diamond song?” he asked, “The one about the road?”

I started to sing, “L.A.’s fine the sun shines most of the time … and the feelin is lay back …”

“No,” he said, “the one about the long road.”

“The road?” I asked. And then it hit me. “The road is long!” I exclaimed.

“Yes!” he said, “I think it’s ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother'”

I googled, “The road is long, with many a winding turn,” and watched it pop up.

“I’ll be damned,” I said. “It IS He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

I didn’t tell him that it wasn’t actually a Neil Diamond song, but a Hollies song that Neil covered. In our world, they’re ALL Neil Diamond songs.

I tried to read the words to him, but I was crying again.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when

But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

For so many reasons, he cried too.

“We’re a hot mess,” I said.

We laughed, and I continued.

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

My girl has never been, and will never be, a burden.

Not to me, not to her dad, not to her sister, not to anyone. 

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

No matter how bad things got, caring for Noelle was never, could never have been, a burden for my dad. 

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share

My dad, should he need us, could never, ever be a burden for me, for Luau, for any of us.

The load doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother


None of us knows where this road will lead.

The possibilities are endless.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.


13 thoughts on “they ain’t heavy

  1. It’s funny because usually I see my kids in your posts. As the patent of an autistic child reading your blog makes things a little more logical. But I read this and thought of my sister and I. She’s a couple years older, but relies on me a lot. (I won’t share all the details publicly)

    Although I hesitate to compare myself to Katie’s awesomeness, when I read this post I see the similarities. Even now I get the 5 am phone calls, the texts, etc, and I know this is how it will always be. And it’s not too heavy. Sone days it is. But overall, it’s okay. One day my parents will be gone, and I have no doubt we’ll probably share a house. And I look forward to it.

  2. Dammit Jess, don’t DO this to me every morning! The perfect timing of your words. The tears of kinship, though I travel your road only as a visitor, learning of the struggles of your world….. Words I need to hear at more levels than you can know. I wonder if you even realize the scope of what you do and how far the love radiates, whether on the spectrum or on the sidelines looking in…. God has brought me to you… Perhaps as a lesson to be learned, or, perhaps, just maybe, one of His many blessings

  3. Pingback: » they ain’t heavy

    • I’m aware of it and have tried to have it removed to no avail. Thank you for looking out for my babies. I really appreciate it.

  4. Hi Jess, please excuse me butting in but this is pretty important. Please examine this anti-autism hate Facebook page: and then consider whether to ask your 250k Facebook followers to report it to Facebook as hate speech against people with disabilities (note: it’s really important to click “Submit to Facebook for review” at the end). Thanks in advance.

    • Sorry I didn’t get back to you. I hope you saw that I was driving so my daughter jumped in for me. There’s a LONG thread on diary’s FB page.

      That damned troll is going to keep popping up in different forms I think. Feels like they’re just playing a game of trolling us. It’s awful.

      • If they’re a troll, at least they’re not serious. So I hope they’re a troll. What I’m scared of is that it might be real. We’re living in times where Trump became a highly popular presidential candidate by spewing about the same degree of hate as that FB page did.

        In any case, thanks to you and Katie for the help, and sorry to have hijacked your comment thread. Now that the FB page is gone, feel free to remove my comments.

      • Never a worry. And troll or not, that kind of stuff is still damaging. I always want to be able to help if I can. xo

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