By Jody Keisner

February 13, 2023


Amelia folds her hands in her lap, like an elderly man at mass during the homily.

They say certain facial expressions and body language are inherited, as if a blueprint for gestures is written on our genes.

We sit on her bed, legs touching, and I read I’ve Loved You Since Forever, her choice, a story about adoption. After she came home with us three years ago, I searched the internet for books about adoption and with protagonists who are Hispanic, like her birth father’s family.

“In the universe, there was you and there was me,” I say, my voice trailing off as I look at her clasped hands.

“Mommy, read,” Amelia says. She rubs my arm softly.

I imagine an Italian American woman with Amelia’s dusk-black hair, a Mexican American man with her perfectly round eyes, settling into beds of their own, one of them crossing their hands behind their head, as Amelia does nearly every night before she falls asleep. My little old man, I think. My husband and nine-year-old daughter have never slept like this.

“…waiting for the day our stars would meet.” The words are a sweet-ache in my chest.

I know the books are not enough, that they are only small gestures toward easing the pain of what she has lost, for what we won’t be able to give. For now, I lean in close. Amelia sighs as I trace my finger down the slope of her nose, just the way she likes.


Jody Keisner’s memoir Under My Bed and Other Essays explores how fear has shaped her as a woman, mother, and person living with a chronic illness. Read more of her work at 


Image by 21 phukao runner courtesy of Adobe Stock

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