Friday, February 5, 2010


Somewhere, in a nonexistent sense but in a very real one, I have a second son. Of course, he's never walked this Earth, but he is a part of my life, in a way, and always will be.

Just understand: I always wanted my youngest child to be a male, an athletic rebel. A runner. A soccer player. A spitfire who constantly challenged me, kept me on my toes, begged me to cook his favorite meals, threw his dirty uniform on the floor. He could break the hearts of young girls everywhere, but was too sensitive to do so. He'd flash a killer smile, yet he'd appreciate the beauty of a well-written novel. My little man. But he never emerged beyond my imagination.

Still, I've known his name for years, kept his image tucked away in my cache of secret wishes for a boy when I was pregnant with both Grace and Kendall. Of course, I already have a son, a highly successful, highly intelligent, well-traveled and handsome man who owns his own home, a polyglot with a vast knowledge of art, culture, literature. He is the eldest of my brood; however, I wanted another son to round out the package. But this second boy--Jackson--never came to be. Subsequently, to placate my desire and our current houseful of four girls, I replaced my second boy with a dog, Eddie the Yorkie. He's athletic, logs a fast 5K with me, tosses the ball back, begs me for his favorite kibble, breaks the hearts of the neighborhood bitches. Yet, I know I won't be dancing with Eddie at his wedding; plus, he has a penchant for playing with his own droppings.

And so I continue to often joke about when I will have my boy, my real boy, my Jack.

Thus, on Thursday, after biking about 12 miles on my trainer, I walked into the kitchen in riding shorts, a sports bra, and my Sidis. Grace grabbed my small four-baby pooch and said: "I wish I had a baby brother." To which Kendall ran over and exclaimed: "Me, too. Me, too!" They hugged me, both while pleading: "Please have a baby boy, we want a baby brother."

Easy for them to say. So I offered up an easy solution: I lied.

"Oh, I'm having twins. Two boys, one for each of you!"

As they danced around the kitchen in glory, I went upstairs and changed. I returned minutes later, thinking the silly celebration had ended.

No such luck.

Back in the kitchen, the petitions continued. They tapped on my vacant uterus, called out hellos. As they went on to cheer with thoughts of baby breath swirling through their heads, I grabbed a blue highlighter, turned my back, and quickly drew two cartoon babies on my torso.

I spun around: "Look, look. Here they are."

For about ten seconds, they believed it, silly rabbits.

I teased: "So what should we call the babies?"

To my surprise, in unison, they immediately spewed the same name. The Name. His name which I rarely say, for it makes me wistful.


I grinned like only a proud momma could.

You see, somewhere, he exists. He does. In my heart. In the boys I see. In the boys I teach. He will never run through my house, drink all of the milk from the carton, leave fetid socks beneath the bed. Instead, he runs through the hallways. He pounces into my classroom. He seeks sage advice and affirmation without even knowing he's trying. How? He tells me that no one at home cares about his schooling, that no one at home cares if he fails, and so why should he? And I look at him in the eyes, and I tell him: "I care."

I directly promise him: "I am here for you when you need me. I want to see you succeed. I believe in you."

Jackson does exist. And he always will. Not in my house, but in my heart. I believe in him.