Alex, F on wall at Abbey

“Hug. Hug”, means putting an arm across your body as we lie side by side. Waiting for sleep, wishing for sleep. Willing those smiling eye to close. I sneak a glance. Your waiting grin. Sleep, no chance.

“Mommy Mommy” means Me, and Daddy, and vice versa. We are the one category of human to you, we two.

“Byeee. Byee”. Waving to anyone around. This after asking for milk and before settling into my chest.

“Hurt. Hurt” means you have fallen over again. A demand for kisses to the affected area.

Words appear as we lie in bed, rise and fall and fade. Surface over lego and lunch and snacks and planting of seeds. Words, thoughts, resurface then settle, heavy to the ocean floor. I struggle to catch them on their way, and commit them to memory, fail to capture their significance.

Until the end of of the day and I am exhausted and full from life and bursting to tell someone of this joy. This life, brimming over with smiles and tears and hugs and kisses and hurts and a yearning for sleep.

Who can I tell? ” Do you know how much I love you” I whisper to arms clasped around my neck.

“Six thousandty seven and a hundred”.

You cleaned the door to the pantry today. That was new. The fridge too, the cooker. You both, then started on the floor, friendly sharing of rags and turns with the spray.

“What else do you want us to clean Mommy”?

Yourselves my loves, both in the bath. Barefoot boys washing soil off feet. Scrapes on knees and bruises on shins. Memories of the rough and tumble days.


We climbed a hill. Ran rings in the heather and chomped nuts looking lakewards.

We planted sunflowers. Watered and wished on them. Stood guard between plastic pots and trowel-wielding toddler.

I lay on a bed and fed you to sleep, the little one. Yesterday a baby, today discovering the words of the world.


The sun shone on us, our home. Bees buzzed. We watered the tulips, the seedlings suffering in the glass house heat. I noticed the yellow flowers on the tree outside our window.

Our cat got into a fight. Paw hurt and swollen, you cried when I packed her into the car for the vet. She’s coming back I said. “Miaow Miaow” you cried, tearful, fearful.

You make animal sounds now on cue to entertain your older brother.

“Are you a duck?” he says leaning towards you from his car seat.

“Quaaaack” both collapsing in giggles.

Monkeys and cows and dogs and cats. Little ones and noise and fights and pushing and laughter and frustration and love.

Always the love underpinning it all.

“Hand. Hand” means take my hand brother.  Arm outstretched, then joined. They walk together down a country path. Brothers. Love. Family.








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