Staying put

"I'll always be there for you," she had said, not fully understanding the weight of those words. Now, they affect her every decision, a constant reminder of the bond she can't break.

Each job she considers is measured against this promise. "Can I still keep my word if I take this?" she asks herself. The answer often leads to sacrifice, turning away from opportunities that would take her too far from him.

Her kids have grown up under the shadow of her promise. They understand why they can't move, why their schools are chosen not just for education but for proximity. "We're doing this for him," she explains, and they nod, their young faces showing a maturity beyond their years.

Sometimes, she stops and thinks, "It's just a house," but then she remembers the loan agreement she had to sign to take custody of him and she knows, he will always be the center of her universe.