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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Heartbreaking conversations with a five year old stranger

"Hi!" says a boy, running up to me in an indoor play centre on the weekend.

"Hi!" says I.

"My mum has a baby in her belly."

"That's fantastic news. You're going to be a big brother."

"My mum's already had three babies die in her belly," says the boy, unfazed.

"Oh." God, what can I say? "I'm so sorry."

"It's okay. The babies are in heaven now."

The boys trips off, and I am left staggered as to the ability of children to cope with all sorts of circumstances.

Naturally, after such a confession, I sought out his mother sitting in the crowd. There she was, swollen belly signalling at least six months gone, and I felt such...well, almost love for her. Concern. Throat-constricting sympathy. Funny how people you pass in a room, in a crowd, can be the source of such private tragedy.

I hope all goes well for her. I really, really do.

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you
can understand.
W. B Yeats

Comments on "Heartbreaking conversations with a five year old stranger"


Blogger Bon said ... (12:17 pm) : 

i do too.

children's brutal matter-of-factness was, for me, really refreshing when my firstborn died. my little nephew was the only person in my family brave enought to say something without trying to make themselves feel better with platitudes. he just looked at me and said "i heard your baby died." i said, "yeh, he did, honey." he said, "you're sad." i said, "i'm so sad." he said, "was he a boy?" i said, "yep, like you, but littler." he said, "cool." and that was that.

i love the Yeats poem, and the version that the Waterboys set to music.


Blogger Scribbit said ... (3:09 pm) : 

Yes, you never know what's going on in people's lives. It's hard in that situation, what can you say except I'm sorry?


Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said ... (4:22 am) : 

That Yeats poem is so true. A childs comment can cut through, but it is refreshing that they are free from the subtlties that people grow into.


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