Dear Jackson, 7.10.10




Dear Jackson,

This morning, Mommy let me sleep in late.   Mommy had stayed up late working on a mystery art project, and I was busy shaking the sand out of everything from the beach.   Jackson, when mommy is making art everything is better.   She has a whole crazy amount of energy and a whole different way of being.  Art is good for Mommy - and good for the rest of us, because we get to live with whatever she makes.

When it got really late, just after midnight, mommy turned off the light in her studio and came downstairs to our bedroom.   Mommy said, "this is the first moment of your birthday and I am so happy you were born."  Then mommy lit some candles and wanted to kiss and hug and laugh about how big her belly is getting.   Jackson, there are so many moments I just want to hold and never let go of.  I think that is why I take pictures and write and make up stories to tell you.  It is because I want to remember all the joy and happiness you and your mommy and everyone in my life gives to me.

Jackson, last fall I thought I was living in the sweetest spot.       Something had clicked creatively and I felt like I owned my work for the very first time. Suddenly I felt such a sure hand at making the pictures and they got so much better.   Pop was alive and doing well  - and while we knew how fragile his health was, we were so happy to have him to call and visit with and hug and share our love with.   I was so crazy happy being with you and your mommy.  Everything all seemed so perfect - I wanted to wrap it all up and live inside that moment like it was a big present.

Jackson, I was never so aware of the seasons changing before you were born.  Now,  I see the changes so much more: the days getting long then short, the green grass then blankets of cold white snow.   The leaves put on a performance every fall that is so beautiful it looks amazing both in and out of focus.  Like the seasons, we know, we have to keep changing and moving and growing.  We gain new things and lose things everyday.  Sometimes we can make our dreams come true, and sometimes Jackson, sometimes things happen that make us so sad.

So here I was last fall, living in my sweet, sweet spot and having dinner with your mommy.   You were asleep upstairs in your room.   It was dark and cold outside and somehow the house felt alittle lonely.    Your mommy looked at me and said, "There is something missing from our house."   I had no idea what she thought was missing.  Did she want something new to sit on in the den?   Did she want more art on the walls?  I asked her what was missing.   Jackson, your mommy looked at me and said, "the rest of our family."    For a moment I thought - I don't want to change anything.   We are living in our sweet spot.   I want to be with Jackson and Mommy and I don't want to dilute our happiness at all.   A moment later,  I went over and hugged your mommy.   Your Mommy knew that our sweet spot last fall was only a chapter.   That in every chapter we have to change in ways we want to and in ways we cannot even imagine.  The reason the sweet spot is so sweet is that it is new and fresh and always evolving.   Your Mommy was dreaming even bigger than I could dream.  She knew the next sweet spot was both a leap of faith and the gift you get for believing in yourself and eachother.

A couple of months after that dinner, two things happened almost at the same time.  Pop got really sick and went to heaven.  Jackson, I still cannot believe Pop is not here with us, although he is always in our hearts.   I know all the things the Drs. said.  I know that we all have to go sometime.  I know Pop was really courageous and fun while being really sick at the same time.  STILL, I really miss Pop, and I know you do, too - and will especially as your get older.   Jackson, at almost the very same moment Pop took his last breath, your Mommy found out that she was pregnant with the rest of our family.   All I can say is this Jackson, if you can believe in the people you love with all all the love you have, good things happen.  Sad things happen, too - but if you make a really big pile of good things with the people you love, there will be plenty to get you through the sad things and still be happy.

Jackson, yesterday we woke up together in Beach Haven.   You opened your eyes and the very first thing you said to me was, "Bruce is my friend."   I said, "That is great Jackson! What do you do with your friends?"   You said, "I  share my scooter with Bruce and he can share his guitar with me." Then you started singing, "Down Down Down" to me and then said, "Jakob Dylan is my friend.  Ella is my friend.  Pete Seeger is my friend. Louis is my friend. Coldplay is my friend."   It was funny because yesterday in the car, you were singing to Coldplay and asking me to play it so many times, I finally tried playing The Beatles for you.   You wanted Coldplay.  Even when I try to play another Bruce song, you only want to hear, "I'm Goin' Down."  It is so great when a new song gets added to the mix - because mostly you know what you want to hear.  If you ever read this Jackson, and want to know what was on your playlist in July of 2010, you can look at the playlist on the bottom of this letter.

This morning Jackson, when I came down I could smell the garlic, and there were vegetables in the skillet waiting for eggs.   You and mommy were out in the back hitting balls off the T-Ball holder.   As soon as you saw me Jackson, you ran up and hugged me and said, "Happy Birthday, Daddy."   Then you went back, made a really tough face, brought the bat back over your shoulder, then swung so hard the ball went right passed Mommy, who looked especially beautiful this morning.   Then we came inside, made our eggs, and Mommy had Daddy's present hanging on the wall covered with a big card.   When Daddy took off the paper, there was the most amazing wooden box filled with 55 birds - all different sizes, all suspended in air.  The box was inspired by an artist, Joseph Cornell that we love - but Jackson, the box was all Mommy.  Every birthday Mommy has made Daddy a piece of art with the number of his birthday years in it.  Daddy was so so happy to get the birds.   Mommy's art is so special, it feels so much a part of the day and timeless at the same time.

Jackson, Daddy is 55 today.  55 years since he was born in Pittsburgh to A and his Daddy, Jack Lange who you were named after.   I want you to know that Daddy has mostly been really happy his whole life, but never happier than he is today on his 55th birthday.   The amount of joy you and your Mommy and the brother growing and kicking in Mommy's belly brings to your Daddy makes this the sweetest of sweet spots so far.

All Daddy wants is to stay healthy for a long long time to bike with you and run with you and catch the balls when you hit them.   All Daddy wants is to sing with you and your brother, and tell you both stories of taking swimming lessons when I was little and meeting Mommy and falling asleep on fast fast trains.

Jackson when you go to pick me up at the train station and see someone who's heart is so full of love it is about to burst, whose smile is so big he can't hold it in, who can't wait to see you and your Mommy and live in our sweet spot that grows and changes and sometimes makes us sad, but mostly makes us happy - that is your Daddy who is 55 today.

Now let's find some ripe peaches to make a mess with.



PS: Jackson, can we make one deal.  I will let you watch little bear on the ipad, if I can take some pictures.   "It's a plan, Daddy.   Shake on it.  Look in eyes."

Jackson's Playlist: July 2010

Another Cup of Coffee  - Enric Madriguera (from the Paper Moon soundtack)

Keep Your Sunnyside Up-  Johnny Hamp's Kentuckey Serenade (from the Paper Moon Soundtrack)J

I'm Goin' Down - Bruce Springsteen

Nothing But the Whole Wide World - Jakob Dylan

It Don't Mean A Thing - Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington

A Tisket A Tasket - Ella Fitagerald

A Kiss to Build a Dream On - Louis Armstrong

People Watching - Jack Johnson

Viva La Vida - Coldplay

The Swimming Song - Kate & Anna MacGarrigle

Rock Candy Mountain - Pete Seeger

Summer's Here - James Taylor