Permanent Smiles

zach tat

Zach’s back.

Don’t be mad, Zach IMed, but I’m getting this tattooed on me.

He then sent a photo I took of him and Rob when they were maybe 13 and 14. Zach’s wearing an Arizona hoodie and Rob’s in an AND1 long-sleeved T-shirt and they’re both smiling so hard, but it’s not the usual cheesiness for the camera. I don’t remember what anyone said that day or why they look the way they look, but the picture captures a moment of pure joy and brotherly love. It’s one of those things that parents live for.

Why would I be mad? I texted back. I love it!!

Before Zach went back to school a few weeks ago, we were hanging out at my apartment one night and I was telling him all about my feng shui-ing and how Laura had pointed out that no one was smiling in any of the photos I had of them.

“These photos are for your own peace of mind and for when your sons come to visit,” Laura said. “If you change them, they’ll see themselves not looking sad, and this will help you all reconnect with happy moments.”

Well, Zach loved all of the new smiley-faced pics of he and Rob, and was obviously enamored with the one he had just texted me. And that just about kills me! Not just that Laura was right (again!). And not just that Zach chose that particular photo, but that he chose to have it with him forever. It’s such a deep expression of the way he feels about his brother and I know Rob feels the exact same way about Zach, and I don’t think there’s anything in the world that can make me feel any prouder of the both of them.

Which is not to say that it was always fun and games in our house. We all went through some pretty tough times for various reasons, and maybe that’s why this gesture of love is even sweeter. I remember talking with Zach in his room a few years ago when Rob was going through an especially rocky patch. “No matter what,” Zach said, “I’ll always have his back.”

Not to sound too gay about it, but Zach’s new tattoo has given my heart a permanent smile, and I needed to tell him that.

I’m glad you like it, he texted back. That makes me very happy!

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