As most of you know, Jackson's father is not in the picture.
He hasn't been since he moved to Minnesota when Jackson was just a tiny baby.
For the most part, Jack hasn't ever really asked about his dad.
He's said things here and there, when other kids talk about their dad, or when I talk about my dad, he'd casually say "Do I have a dad?" and I'd answer "Yes. Everyone comes from a mommy and a daddy."
He would seem satisfied, and the conversation would end there.
He's little, and I didn't want to force a whole 'talk' on him before he was ready, let alone before he was even so much as very curious.
Last Sunday though, it finally came up.
I was making dinner, and he was sitting at the table watching me, when all of a sudden he said
Can I see my dad?
My heart caught in my throat, and for a second in was like time stopped.
It was a moment I've been waiting for, expecting, knowing would some day come, but completely unable to really, really, prepare for.
It was just a talk I knew we'd someday have, and I knew deep down inside that when that moment arrived, I'd figure it out.
I caught my breath and turned to Jackson and very simply said
I wish you could, buddy. But I don't think that will happen any time soon. I'm sorry.
I knew he wouldn't drop it at that, and he didn't.
Why? Why can't I see him? I just want to see him and talk to him. Who is he? Didn't I ever meet him before?
At this point he was still calm, and not upset, so I didn't let myself be upset either.
You met him when you were just a baby, I said. But then he moved away, and he didn't come back, and I'm sorry that he didn't come back. I'm sorry you don't get the chance to know him.
Tears welled up in his perfect blue eyes, and I wanted to burn down the entire world for the unfairness of this moment.
So I went on.
I said I loved him. I said I was here, and I was never going to go anywhere. I said that there were a lot of people in the world who loved him and would always be there for him. I said it might be hard to not know your dad, but that doesn't mean you don't have a family. You don't need a dad to have a family.
He looked at me, a little confused, but his face had changed. He looked hopeful.
You don't? He asked.
No, I said. You just need people who love you.
At that, Lainie nearly killed me by reaching over and touching his shoulder, and saying "Yeah, like me. And mommy. And the kitties. We're a family."
I could've died. It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen her do. And that's saying a lot - she's a very sweet kid. But she's also very much a big sister to her baby brother, and she would sooner lick a toad than kiss him or hug him or let him know she would be lost without him.
I don't know at what point Jackson will start making long-term memories.
I don't know if he's already made his first memory or not. The first one he'll still recall when he's 30 for no good reason.
But I hope if he does save any of this in his heart for later, that Lainie touching his shoulder and telling him he has a family, no matter what, makes it into his heart and mind forever.
It takes a village.