I was watching the news on the television early this morning before the children were awake, as is my custom. Sitting there, sipping my coffee, listening to the journalists discussing running lists of what was going to happen later at the funeral of poor Daniel Morcombe and estimating the crowd numbers, I suddenly heard a sound behind me.
There stood Riley, in his red Spiderman pajamas, half-buttoned up the front, hair wild and askew, looking aghast at the television and the photos of that other sweet-smiled boy as they were flickered across the screen.
Swearing silently to myself, I prepared myself for questions, because, lord, my son loves asking them.
“What happened to him?”
“He was taken, darling.”
“And then what happened?”
He closed his mouth, clamping his jaw together in a way I recognise as his way of suppressing being upset. His brow furrowed, trying to articulate another question.
And when it finally came, it slayed me.
“I didn’t know kids could die,” he said.
Turning away so he couldn’t see the tears I blinked away, I took a breath and looked back into his eyes.
“They can. It’s possible,” I said.
I reached over and rubbed his arm and asked what he would like to eat for breakfast because I didn’t know what else to say or do.
He picked this for me yesterday. I took this photo just after he presented it; there is his shadow, in the background, as he stood in front of me waiting for a response and my thanks. And today I think of another family whose son is tragically no longer with us, a child unable to present a flower or spontaneous token of love to those who are lucky enough to be there to receive it.