When you grow up with a person, you can have a conversation in an instant, without words, one that you’ve never had before and will never have again, one that preludes a moment that changes everything.

I sat on the sofa downstairs watching the Super Bowl with the same bit of interest as usual, and heard my aunt ask my Uncle Jay if it was time to go snap some pictures. The comment did not pass my brain’s triage, so I sat and kept watching the game with the same bit of interest, hoping one of those funny commercials would come on again.

Then, I had to pee. So I went upstairs.

What should have clicked in my little brain when my aunt said that was that Jay was getting ready to document where he is in his transition. By the time I got upstairs, he had removed his sweater, and my aunt had her digital drawn.

This is what he said to me, not in any words, not even in gestures, just in one milisecond of hesitation:

I’m about to take off this T-shirt, and you’ll see for the first time ever what I look like after top surgery plus a few short weeks of healing. For me, there’s no turning back, there hasn’t been since I had this done. For you, that point of no return is right now. After this, you will not know me any other way. I will no longer be your aunt in transition?I will be your uncle. That scares me a little, and it should you too, and so I’ll wait for just one second to give you a chance to leave the room before I take off my shirt and change both of our lives forever.

So, what do you think, nephew. You ready?

I didn’t flinch.