Black Chair

Jackson Turns Seven

When Jackson was growing up in Maplewood, he loved trains. LOVED them. We could hear the train whistle all the time in our house from the trains going to and from Manhattan. He would always yell out, “TRAIN! TRAIN”” when he heard the whistle. TRAIN might have been one of his very first words. There was Scottish book of train stories, Full Steam Ahead that he loved and we read to him many many nights. The illustrations by Benedict Blathwayt were amazing. Every page had a cat somewhere, often a nuclear power plant in the rural landscape, and many towns we felt we were visiting with Duffy Driver and the Little Red Train. Last night, just before Jackson turned 7, we pulled out the well worn book and Jackson read it to me. It was so weird hearing the words I had almost memorized come out of his lips. After the story we turned off the light and talked about that morning exactly 7 years ago. I told him about Stephie waking up at 7AMand telling me how she was going to give me the best anniversary present ever. I told him about calling my mother in Pittsburgh and not being able to get a word out. “Stephie is having the baby.” I nodded. “You are on your way to the hospital.” I nodded. “I will see you soon.” We hung up. I told Jackson about the drive to the hospital in the old Camry when I was driving slower and slower, giving Stephie a navigational play by play. Stephie who was busy keeping Jackson inside until we arrived just said calmly (which is so Stephie), “I don’t need you to describe how long it will take every minute.” I told Jackson how we had so much stuff for the long haul in the hospital. The music. The big exercise ball. I told him about coming out several hours after we arrived in three breaths. Big breath and push. Scalp. Bigger push. His whole head. At 1:45, one last brave push by Stephie and Jackson launched out into the world. I saw him through the tears. Fully assembled. Full personality from his first breath. Stephie embracing that slimy beautiful boy. Me trying to embrace them both. Stephie’s mom, Janet was there - we needed our own personal nurse. My mother arrived at about the same moment, having run to the airport in Pittsburgh, hopped a plane to Newark, and taken a cab, all in less than 4 hours without my having said a word out loud.