Erin Heger, KS

Senior Writer

Erin wrote her first “novel” in sixth grade—a story of three siblings who became orphans. The 30-page Word document now lives in a drawer of her desk, and though she has no intention of ever letting anyone else read them, the pages serve as a reminder of her roots as a storyteller. Erin went on to study journalism and now works as a freelance writer with bylines in the Atlantic and Huffington Post. Erin is drawn to stories because they are powerful forces of human connection and agents for change.

As a Story Terrace writer, Erin interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

You Are My Sunshine

My son lays his head on my chest as I scoop him into my lap and wrap his legs around me.

“Sing me a song, Mommy,” he says.

His skin is soft and warm. I run my hands along his pointy shoulder blades as I try to imagine his three-year-old frame morphing into the awkward shape of a middle schooler or the lankiness of a teenager. I bury my face in his hair and breathe him in, knowing someday, perhaps in the not so distant future, he won’t let me hold him this way.

My singing voice is really not great, but he has been asking for it a lot more lately. I press his cheek to mine. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” I sing as his eyelids droop and his thick brown lashes flutter.

I’ve sung it probably hundreds of times by now, starting when he was an infant, colickly and loud. He would cry for hours, and I would try everything to make it stop. When I didn’t know what else to do I rocked him while he wailed, singing softly and wiping my own tears. As a toddler he protests intensely to all the limits I set for him, throwing himself on the floor, tears streaming down his cheeks because I won’t let him play in the street. I sit with him during his emotional outbursts, singing softly with a pleading look in my eyes, hoping the melody will help bring him a sense of calm. But it rarely works. I wonder in those moments if I’m reaching him. If he even knows I’m there.

I rock him back and forth, back and forth. “You make me happy when skies are gray.”

The next day I watch him push his toy cars across the floor to the rhythm of a soft hum. He’s in his own little world, unaware that I’m observing him. It’s a tune I recognize, but the first time I’ve heard it from him. It’s quiet and soothing, mindless and natural—a ritual that’s ours.

All this time I was sure he didn’t hear me. But perhaps I’ve been reaching him all along.

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