I spent the afternoon with friends who live in the tiny village of Cornwell near Chipping Norton. They have a 6 year old boy and soon to be 4 year old girl. They had packed their own rucksacks full of toys and games for the 10 minute journey to collect me from the bus stop as though they were expecting to be stranded in the car for the night in a blizzard.
Initially a bit wary and shy, they soon relax as we browse around the local bookshop Jaffé and Neale to allow them to get their books from World Book Day. Their little squeaky voices echoed around the children’s section at the back.
Other people’s children is a subject that no doubt has been the basis of many a sarcastic comment by most of us, but for me, being around children having lost my own, is quite an extraordinary experience. It is a privilege to be able to have these moments in my life as they fulfil a part of my psyche that feels almost primeval.
I seem to ‘read’ children a lot clearer than I used to be able to. I notice the nuances of their behaviour and how incredibly intuitive and wise they are. Their natural sense of timing, the freedom of their characters and sharp clarity.
There are many guises to being a mother - as we snuggled up on the sofa together and I read them their books, their faces were lit up in wonderment and in this moment I felt motherly. It’s lovely to feel I can have these moments and not be wracked with the yearning for Martha. This shows the growth of my bereavement, the new history I’ve lived without my girl. The distance between what was and what is.
As I leave their home I see a framed photo of my precious Martha in the corner holding their little girl when she was a baby and I smile to myself.
Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child. (Ron Wild, Author)