It’s not a conversation you expect to have with a 2nd grader.

I was in the car the other day with my son Andrew, and my best friend’s daughter, Berkeley (yeah, like the school).

We were in the McDonald’s drive-thru (hey, I don’t just want my kids to be unhealthy) when Berkeley spoke up from the back seat:

“Auntie Jo?”

“Yes honey?”

“Are you going to get someone to watch Andrew when you die? I mean, it’s not that I want you to die, at least, not right now. I mean, I don’t want you to die at all, but when you do die, will you have someone there to watch Andrew?”

“Um. Wow. Well, uh Berkeley, that’s a great question and one that does not make me uncomfortable in the least. I’m definitely not uncomfortable right now, nor am I finding it hard to speak, even though my mouth suddenly feels as if I’ve been sucking on old sand. And the sweat dripping under my armpits has nothing to do with the non-existent panic attack I’m most certainly not having.  So yeah, great question.”


(Here’s where I thought I  could get away with pretending like we didn’t just engage in a dialogue about my impending death by completely ignoring Berkeley, but she’s just a teeny bit smarter than that, thanks to her equally smart mom. *Way to go Heather).

“Auntie Jo?”

“Um, yeah Berkeley?”

“So, who’s gonna watch Andrew when you die?”

“Well honey, when and IF that ever happens, like when I’m extremely old – like ancient ruins old – then I hope that Ian will step up and help take care of his big brother someday.  Ian will also be able to hire kind, hard working people to help take care of Andrew because we’ll make sure to leave him money for that very reason. And I hope that other family members will pitch in when they can. I’d like to believe that Andrew will always be with people who love him very much. Does that answer your question honey?”



“Auntie Jo?”

“Yeah Berkeley?”

“I will help take care of Andrew too.”

And with that, Berkeley proceeded to feed my son his happy meal fries – as if to drive home the point that she was very serious about her offer – while I sat behind the wheel of my car and tried hard to process what she had just said. This beautiful child, this 7-year-old little girl was ready and willing to sign up to help take care of my son someday, without hesitation, without a second thought.

It took about five seconds for the gravity of what she had just said to sink in.

And then:

Cue the ugly cry.*


*For future reference, might I suggest you refrain from engaging in the ugly cry while in the presence of young children, or any other human being for that matter. Hearing things like “Auntie Jo, you have ginormous bubbles coming out of your nose!” and “You’re getting tears in my cheeseburger!” tend to ruin the mood.

But yeah. Other than scaring the crap out of both kids while I sobbed like a wounded animal in the McDonalds drive-thru, I think the conversation went pretty well.

And Andrew?

He’s got one more amazing person willing to go the extra mile for him.

Andrew and Berkeley.

Cue the ugly cry. Again.

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19 Replies to “Why My Best Friend’s Daughter Made Me Cry”

  1. I have had a very similar conversation with my 7 year old grandson about his sister. My hubby and I have had the kids most of their life, guardianship since 2010. He wants to be a tractor trailer driver (just like Papi), but they have to let KiKi come on the big truck with me grandma. She’ll like it, she can wave at people. I’m gonna get married grandma, but she has to love Kiki cause I have to take care of her when I get big.

    Yeah, the ugly cry is not for babies to see. I just hug him and thank God every day that this little boy has such a big heart.

  2. Andrew’s brother Ian….he’s amazing, and even though we’re used to it, he still makes us swoon each time he defends and protects his special needs brother. But hearing it from someone else’s child was so unexpected and beautiful. There is so much love in this world. We just tend to focus on the hate. The love though? That’s what makes it go round.

  3. We have an 8 year old on the spectrum and we ponder the exact same thing- who will love and care for Gregory when we are gone. His younger brother is incredibly protective of him (just turned 6. I don’t know where he gets it.), and some of the things Mark does amaze me and Mommy. What a heart in that kid. Empathy is a child. Unheard of.

    God bless Berkeley too.

  4. Wow! That was wonderful! What a beautiful little soul she is already! This made me tear up but I refrained from the “ugly cry” since my Asperger’s son, Damian, is in the room. Give those little blessings a big hug from Maryland! 🙂 *HUGS* to you all!

  5. I know. Cause you get it. Cause you worry about the same kind of stuff. We all want a Berkeley in our kids’ lives….

  6. Thankyou for that :’)

    People like Berkeley, give me hope for the future.

    hope, faith & l0ve xxxxx

  7. As I am reading this, big fat tears came to my eyes. What a beautiful soul and someone so young. She is golden and true.

  8. I am so proud of my Berkeley, she has a soul and compassion that could never be taught, she was born with it. She has a true heart filled with nothing but love, and she loves Andrew with all her heart! I showed her this posting, and tears filled her eyes. Not the ugly cry, but tears welled up and she smiled, and she meant it! You can be born into a family, or you can join together in friendship to become extended family, and you and yours are forever part of me and mine! XOXO

  9. I have a special needs nephew. He is on the spectrum plus has a rare genetic disorder. He will need care for the rest of his life. My daughter is about 6 years older than my nephew. We had a very similar conversation when she was about 8. We unfortunately live in another state and she announced that when she grew up she wanted to live near him so that she could help his sister care for him when his parents are gone. It made my heart melt and brought out the ugly cry as well.

  10. WOW! What a kind kid! How nice is that?
    Her parents have done a wonderful job bringing up such a kind and thoughtful little girl!

  11. I think about stuff like that all the time. My daughter is 7 yrs old and her diagnosis is severe global developmental delay (translation: so far she is unique in her chromosome make-up). Her big brother Brian has told me not to worry about it, he will take care of her when I’m gone. The thing is he also has special needs, he is a double below the knee amputee. He is such a great loving big brother, I really could ask for more.

  12. It’s in those little moments that I remember that children have most of the answers. Thanks for the ugly cry. I needed it. 🙂

  13. You SHOULD be proud of her, Heather! And of yourself. Because you can say she was born with it, but we all KNOW that you have nurtured her into being the person that she is growing up to be! What a beautiful soul!

  14. I have an autistic brother who is a couple of yars younger than I. Ever since I was small I knew that I wanted to take care of him when my parents were too old too. I never expected to have an autistic child of my own. My Paddy is 4 now, nd he works hard everyday to overcome his dissability, as does my brother (who is 24 to my 25).

    I’v had those ugly cries, and you’re right, they aren’t pretty. lol You are blessed have such wonderful people in your life! Bless you and yours!

  15. After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I
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    There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

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