This morning, I was unwittingly drawn to unearthing this photograph of my sons. It depicts them on Inishbofin Island, off the coast of Galway, about ten years ago, clad in rain gear, after a ramble around the wild terrain of the Atlantic landscape, that can be, both jaggedly cruel and stunningly beautiful. My three sons look happy, delighted with themselves, protected from the elements, they all spontaneously laugh at my attempt to capture the moment. I can't recall for sure, but I am more than confident that I have bestowed a kiss on a forehead or dusted one of them off from falling on the grass or I could have wiped a runny nose with a tissue that I tucked into the pocket of my raincoat. The moment evokes a sense of place, it is nostalgic, it speaks of happy days. It is innocence personified.
My three sons are all safe in the house this evening. I have cooked a special dinner, there is a sense of anticipation. I am aware that they are healthy, well nourished and sensitive to the world around them. I am still the mother, swaddling them with my mother hen feathers, though from more of a distance since that photograph was taken. I woke up this morning and turned on the radio. The newsman told me that a nineteen year old youth had been killed while walking on the road not far from my house. I was distraught. I thought about the boys in bed, their bodies intact, their dreams boundless. I thought about it all morning, about the mother of the youth. I did not know her but I wondered if she was ahead of me at the flower stand yesterday morning at the Saturday market? Did she comment on the size of the garlic or sip a coffee at my favourite sidewalk cafe? Did I happen to brush up against her as we were both drawn to marvel at the deep hue of the Aubergines and plan to buy some for Sunday evening dinner? Did she awaken at 2 a.m. this morning and wonder why her son was not home? Did she look for his sneakers in the porch and not finding them, did she assure herself that maybe he had stayed with friends and so she went back to bed only to be wakened from her sleep at 3 a.m., by the incessant ring of a telephone, a deathly knock on the door that could only signify finality?
This afternoon I passed the lonely, desolate place where the boy was killed. I was on my way to walk in the bog. The sight was heart wrenching. There were lots of flowers. The Gardai raked through the hedgerow. I cried out, for the boy and for the mother and for the Sunday that would never end. That could never, ever, end, no matter what.