I could see she was holding back tears as she walked down the steps of the school bus and into the passenger seat of our family minivan.

The words came tumbling out like a waterfall, “He broke up with me at lunch.”

My heart sank as I watched her body curl into a ball and her head flush against the window, tears flowing freely now.

“Oh, honey. I’m so sorry. I know how much you liked him.”

I laid my hand on her arm for a moment and she wrapped herself further into a ball. Silence ensued for the rest of our drive home.

She bolted into the house and to her room, shutting the door. I followed her up the stairs, and as I rested my head on her closed door, I could barely make out muffled sobs. My heart sank even more.

My girl was hurting. And no matter what I did or said at that moment, it probably wouldn’t help at all.

She was suffering the normal heartbreak that comes with first kisses, first crushes, and first rejections.

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I would just let her be for now, alone with her own heart and all the feelings that were new and confusing and downright difficult. It was the best and only thing I knew to do. It seemed to be what she wanted and needed the most.

I meandered to the kitchen, not sure what to do with myself. I wanted to run right back upstairs and wipe her tears away with a kiss, a hug, an emotional bandaid, an “I love you” or one of the other many mom tricks I had up my sleeve.

Not this time. Instead, all I could do was pray (and I sure did) and feel awkward and start to make dinner.

Time seemed to march ever so slowly that afternoonnormal when pain is loud for us or someone we love.

Time feels achingly long and almost cruel. Why can’t it pass quickly so that we are on the other side of loss and grief and back to our hopeful selves?

How I wished that for her on that insufferable day.

Right before dinner, there was a knock at our front door. Odd at that time of day.

I glanced through the window and right in front of my own teary eyes, one of my daughter’s best friends was anxiously standing there, carrying two spoons and a huge container of my girl’s favorite ice cream flavor.

I opened the door, gave her a quick, thankful hug, and whispered, “She’s up in her room.”

I heard another knock, footsteps, a door open and then shut again.

Talk about strange and hard for my mama self, yet somehow wonderful and what I hoped for all at the same time.

What I couldn’t do anymore as a mom (as much as I desperately wanted to), her friend was able to do.

Listen. Relate. Comfort. Eat ice cream out of the container right before dinner.

All so normal for that season of her life.

I kept milling around the kitchen, gratitude welling up inside me for this friendship my daughter had.

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The kind that goes to the grocery store instead of her dance practice.

The kind that shows up instead of stays away.

The kind that hangs out with the tears instead of just the laughs.

I heard the front door close and a car pull away.

In what seemed like only a few moments, her friend was gone again, just like that.

Had it been enough for that very miserable afternoon?

I wondered what would happen next.

Only moments went by when I heard the familiar creaking of my girl’s door opening and loud footsteps down the stairs.

She bounded into the kitchen, hair a mess, eyes all puffy, but the next words out of her mouth were priceless.

“I’m going to be OK, Mom, even if I’m not right now.”

She threw her arms around me and we hugged for a long time, and as I held her close, I knew deep inside that it had all been enough.

“What’s for dinner?” she quietly asked.

As we unwrapped ourselves, I whispered one last thing into her ear, “I made your favorite.”

Originally published on the author’s blog

Esther Goetz

I am a wife to Allen for almost 28 years. I am a mom to four unique children aged 19-26, a mother-in-law to one and a grandmother to one cute little boy. I live in a sleepy, little town called Stirling, NJ. My true heart’s desire is to be a hope-bringer to women as we navigate this adventure of life together.