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That’s Not Everything About Her

hands holding a string of paper hearts up to the sun during suns

We had just introduced ourselves, this group of people who would share the day together.  They’re somewhere in between learning to tie shoes and learning to ride bikes, in that life stage where you’re going about your day and suddenly a tooth falls out of your mouth.  These were my companions for the day.


A little boy tapped my stomach.  They tap what they can reach.

He said, “Hi.  Did you know my mom is dying?”

Oh, little buddy.  You have just given me everything you have to hold.

I said, “I did not know that.  Is she sick?”

“No, she’s not sick.  But she’s going to pass away.”


I don’t know if she’s living a diagnosis, or if she’s living on life’s timeline like all the rest of us.

I don’t know if she’s dying, or if he’s existential.

He may have asked her on the way to school that morning, “Are you going to die?”

And she may have said, “Well, sure.  Someday.”

I don’t know him, and I don’t know her.

But I know a lot is swimming around in his head.

And he handed it to me, upon our first conversation.


Weeks ago, when I told my brother I was returning to teach in the classroom, that I just knew in my spirit that it was time, he said, “Tricia, I think there are children who need you.  They don’t know they need you yet, because they don’t know their stories yet.  But you’ll meet a child very soon, and you’ll think to yourself, ‘Oh, yes.  I know you.’  And you’ll be what that child needs.”


I said to my new friend, “I am so glad you told me about her this morning.”

And he furrowed his little brow, and he said, “That’s not everything about her.”


No, brave boy.  You are exactly right.  That’s not everything about her.

She holds multitudes.  And so do you.  I want to know everything you want to tell me.


I believe I will never get over that statement: That’s not everything about her.

May I always remember, no matter what facts present themselves, no matter what details emerge,
that’s not all there is to know about someone.

We hold multitudes.

I want to know everything you want to tell me.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I think Brandy Carlyle sang, “What good are stories if you got no one to tell them to…” You are the perfect one.

  2. Oh, that we are ready to hear others’ stories and hold them with the hope and reverence with which they are told to us.

  3. This is so true. You have such a gift for storytelling. Thank you for sharing that gift with us.

  4. Young children, who haven’t been complicated yet by life, so often zero in on the essence of what’s important. Would that we all relearned how to do that!

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