Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Son's Name Is Jack.


Please, please help me. My son’s name is Jack. His name is Jack. He is only five years old. He stands a little over three feet tall and has fair skin and blue eyes and dark curly hair that he likes to hang down in his face. He is smart and he is funny. He loves Captain America and dinosaurs and My Little Ponies. Please think about him; remember him; believe in him. His name is Jack and he is fading away.

It started this summer. He caught a case of ringworm that spread all over him and he wasn't able to go to day camp with his brother and sister. I don't know if it is connected, but that is when I noticed that something was going on. When I went to talk to the day camp about withdrawing Jack until the ringworm cleared, they said that it was okay. He was never registered.  I thought that it was me being flaky, and let it go. Jack and I would spend the day together while Ava and Evan went to camp.

Ava and Evan are my other two children. Ava is six and Evan is four. Jack... Jack is five. Unlike Jack my other two have blonde hair. Jack is also more introverted and quiet than Ava and Evan.  
People often comment on how Ava and Evan look like their dad or each other. They say that Jack looks like me. I think it's the dark hair. I would have never admitted this to anyone before, but I have always felt closer to Jack than to my other children. Now, I don't care if that makes me a bad mom. Jack is mine and I can't lose him. Not my Jack. 

When Ava and Evan would come home from camp, they would eat a snack, excitedly tell me about their day and then run off to play together. From the start, Jack seemed excluded. I would see Jack sitting alone, watching his brother and sister and ask why he wasn't playing with them. 

"They forgot me, Mommy."

I felt nauseated and didn't know why. 

"Sweetheart, they don't forget you. They just get busy. Do you want me to get out Candyland, and we can all play together?"

"No Mommy. I just want to watch them for a while." My son looked sad and old. Babies aren't supposed to look that old.

I went outside to my other two children. 

"Hey! Did y'all forget about Jack?" I was kidding.

They both stopped playing on their swing set  and looked at me for a moment. It was maybe ten seconds, but I could see in their faces that for that ten seconds, they had no idea what I was talking about. 

"Jack, Mommy? Jack is inside."

And I stopped there. I didn't push it. I should have.

"Alright my sweetie-pies. We're going to eat supper in about a half an hour. Y'all are coming in then and I don't want any fussing."

"Yes Mommy!" in unison.

I don't remember seeing the three of them play together since then. 

A week later, the ringworm cream wasn't working and so I tried to make an appointment for Jack to see the doctor to get a prescription. Our doctor's office has this website where you can just send in a request for an appointment. I had spent an hour inputting us all into the system and setting up passwords a year ago. When I went to request an appointment, Jack's name was not listed on our page. I sent an email. I even remember the exact wording. I wrote:

"Good morning! I would like to request an appointment with Dr. Harrison for my son, Jack. He has had ringworm for a week and it is not responding to the cream I bought at the pharmacy. When I went to request the appointment in his name, it had been removed. I would also like to request a code key for him, so that I may reenter him into the system. His name is Jack Graves."

The reply they sent me was:

"Good morning Ms. Helmer. We have processed your request for a new blue card for your son, Evan Graves. You may pick it up at any time. If you would rather, we can also mail it directly to the school, since you have already signed the release."

I reread their reply and then my original email. Evan needed a new blue card, but I had not submitted a request. I couldn't make sense of it. I felt a chill on my right arm. 

"They forgot me, Mommy." 

I jumped. His hand was the cold spot on my arm. I didn't even hear him. His hand seemed to have no weight at all.

"What baby?"

"The doctor's office. They forgot me. Everyone is forgetting me."

"Sweetie! I'm not forgetting you." I picked him up and almost sent him over my head. He was lighter. He looked the same, but he wasn't as heavy. I squeezed him as tight to me as I could. I could tell by the way that he moved, that he was hugging me back just at tightly, but I barely felt any pressure. 

"Jack. Sweet boy. You stay with me. I love you. I am not forgetting you. You stay here with me, okay?"

The slight pressure relaxed and he looked at me.



"You'll forget me too, Mommy."

"Never! I promise. You are my boy and I am never going to forget you. And I'll make everyone else remember too!" 

I called my husband and asked him to leave work and come home so that I could talk to him. 

He looked worried as he walked in the back door 20 minutes later. 

"Devon, something is wrong with Jack. He's cold and he feels lighter, and as crazy as it sounds, people are forgetting that he's here. That he exists. They aren't even responding to me when I talk about him. No one even seems to see him."

"Heidi, it's okay. We can work it out. Once both Ava and Evan are in school, you should be able to pick up your hours. But it's also no rush. We'll be okay with you easing your way back in. Don't trigger a panic attack worrying about that job."

"Devon, what the fuck are you talking about? I am telling you that no one seems to be able to remember our son! There is some crazy shit going on, but it's not me having another panic attack. Jack. Jack is....disappearing. He seems to be losing substance. No one remembers him. You have to help him. Help me!" A cold draft on my leg and a small voice.

"Daddy forgot me, Mommy. He doesn't even hear what you are saying. He thinks you are talking about something else. You are the only one who knows me now."

I looked down, at my small, beautiful son. He seemed almost translucent.  I noticed the rug underneath him. I had bought it with my first paycheck. I started to worry. How was I ever going to get back into the swing of things at work full time? Part time was overwhelming as it was. Was I cheating my children by picking up hours? They are only four and six once...

And there he was. Jack! My sweet boy. I had forgotten. That quick. He was gone because I had forgotten. I don't know how I remembered, but it brought him back. 

I sat on the floor and pulled him into my lap. I wrapped my arms around him and felt them go almost through. 

No, he's my son. He's my Jack.

Devon thought I was going to throw up and brought me an anti-emetic. He sat with me on the floor while I cried and apologized to Jack.

"Devon, just say his name for me. Say Jack"

"It will be okay. I love you, too. We'll get through this."

Jack just sat cradled in my arms with his head on my chest. 

"I'm tired, Mommy."

"I'm sorry baby, please hang on."

"You forgot me for a minute."

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I won't forget you again. I promise. Never. Never ever. Mommy loves her Jackie."

"It's okay, Mommy. And it will be okay when you forget."

I just sat there and cried. I won't forget. It won't be okay.

This has gone on for weeks now. Everyone interacts with me like I am not screaming "Look at Jack! He's right here! Believe in him!"

So now, I am alone in my room with Jack. He sits in my lap dozing as I type this. I don't know what else to do. None of my friends, family, or casual acquaintances remember Jack. I can't even get them to hear his name. 

So here I am. 

On the internet.

This is the only place on Earth that I think may be able to understand what is going on. The only place that will comprehend what I am writing and believe. Because I need you to believe. 



I know I sound like some stupid speech from Peter Pan, I don’t care. Please believe in my boy Jack. I have a son named Jack. Please think about my boy, Jack. Picture him with his dark curls and serious face.  Please. Help him. Help me. I need Jack. He is my little fella and I love him. Mommy loves you Jack. Mommy loves you. I won’t forget you Jack. I won’t forget you Jack. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget. I won’t forget. I won’t forget. I won't.

My son is Jack.


Please, Jack.


written 8/17/14



  1. This is haunting. Brilliant, and troubling. Great work.

  2. I love this story. At the same time it's breaking my heart. I was so afraid at the end you were going to forget his name!

    You leave just enough ambiguity for us to wonder and want to know more.


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