An Imaginary Dialogue with My Son / No. 4
‘Give me your hand, mum,’ says Cameron, stretching his hand out towards me.
I grab it. His hand feels bigger than I expected.
Slowly, but surely, we climb our way to the top. Thankfully, the textured surface offers much in the way of grips and footholds. It is not lost on me that this is something I have never done in real life.
At the top, there's nowhere flat for us to stop and rest, so we inch ourselves closer to the entrance of the hole. Using both my hands, I pull myself up past the lip of the entrance to peer inside.
‘There's nothing,’ I observe. ‘You can see right down to the bottom.’
‘That's a long way down,’ says Cameron. ‘It's quite the echo chamber, isn't it?’ Even as he asks the question, his words bounce off the bottom of the hole and float back towards us.
‘It feels so hollow and empty,’ I say quietly, still staring down into the void. ‘It reminds me of how I felt when you died...’ For a moment, it all comes flooding back: the emptiness, the coldness, and the numbness.
Cameron turns his head towards me, and our eyes meet. For the first time, I notice how brown his eyes are. His eyelashes, however, are black. Like mine.
I reach over with my right hand and touch his face, ever so lightly. The warmth of his cheek passes through my fingertips, my hand, my arm, and the rest of me. The emptiness fades, and I feel whole again.
We turn ourselves around and manage to sit down on the flattest part of the slope. We rest there, side by side, with our feet pointing down towards the bottom.
‘Bear asked me something unexpected this week. We were talking about you, and he asked us how old you would be when he meets you in heaven. Whether you would be a baby or grown-up.’
Cameron smiles. ‘Bear sounds like he's very switched on.’
‘Oh, he is.’
I look at him again and study his face in silence.
‘I actually can't work out how old you look.’
‘Well, I'm not a baby...’
‘How long have I been gone?’
‘Almost twelve years. Actually…’ I go quiet as I try to do the maths in my head. ‘Eleven years, eleven months, and eleven days to be exact.’
‘Twelve years…wow. I don't feel like I'm twelve. But then, I don't know what that feels like. Time moves differently for us.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I don’t really know how long a year is. Or a month, or a day. For us, time is not linear. There’s no progression. It’s like time has always been. There’s no beginning and no end.’
‘With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day…’ I recite, from memory.
‘When we first lost you, it felt like time stood still. Every day felt like every other day. A blur of grief and pain. In my desperation, I remember trying to work out how many minutes, hours, days, years it would be till I got to see you again…’
I reach over again, this time to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear.
‘It was the worst time of our lives. And yet, in a strange way, it was also the best time of our lives, because we had had you. And even though it was the most excruciating experience to lose you, it was also the beginning of our journey as a family…’
‘Did you ever feel angry with God?’
‘Yes, of course. But that’s the amazing thing about Him, isn’t it? That He’s big and mighty enough to bear the weight of our pain and rage, even as he comforts us and sustains us. Even in our anger, He showed us such amazing grace.’
‘That’s because He loves you.’
I touch his cheek again, and everything fades.
You can read the other posts in this series here.