Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Charming Boy

Charming Boy is the name I'm using for Helen's son. He was at the memorial this weekend, looking very, very much like her, as we all saw in her films because Helen had included footage from her own childhood in some of them.

I was struck by how he seemed to be protecting himself, evaluating the grownups around him with care. All these grownups, talking about his mama! Z. is a few months younger than Charming Boy--in fact, she is now the age he was when he woke up in the dark of the early morning because his dada scooped him up to go and investigate why his mama was crying out "Please don't hurt my baby!"

This is the same plea I made in the three words ("Oh, God, Z.!") that tore out of me while I watched Z. flying, crown-first, through the air to the concrete sidewalk last September. I was talking to god. Helen was talking to a man with a gun, but maybe god was listening because the only one of them not shot that morning was Charming Boy.

Thank god, all Z. suffered was a broken arm. But she regressed on every front; she played the game of putting a pretend cast on her arm until she could no longer fit an empty toilet paper roll over her hand; she is only now becoming confident of herself in space. I see 18 month-olds doing more adventurous climbing than she does at 27 months and I know this is not just her native caution. The world of stairs and high places has looked very dangerous to her for a long time.

Charming Boy's arm didn't break, his heart did. And so did his daddy's. There is no mama to nurse him better. Seeing him this weekend, seeing how he loves to run and play and climb, but keeps his words and his spirit hugged close to himself, I could hardly let myself think of how the world of grownup people must look to him.

10 comments:

Phantom Scribbler said...

... crying...

Magpie said...

Heartbreaking.

Hits very close to home right now - the mother of twin girls at our school had her throat slashed over the weekend, by their father, while she was holding the year old baby.

(un)relaxeddad said...

I worry about that happening every day, especially at the moment.

Dudelet still bumps cautiously down staircases on his bottom eighteen months after his mummy fell down the stairs at the back of our flat and broke her arm whilst carrying him. And he played the cast game for quite a while after his leg broke. But she will get over it and a little caution on staircases isn't a bad thing.

Julia said...

This is sad, beautiful, and heartbreaking.

susan said...

(o)

Magpie said...

PS - would you email me? You can find my email address at my blog. Don't if you don't want to.

S. said...

Phantom, me too.

Magpie, I'm so sorry. That's so horrible. There's not much more to say.

(Un)relaxeddad, Z. was cautious before. We never put up baby gates in our house because Z. was highly respectful of the tops of stairs before this happened--she only went down these steps because she couldn't see them. Afterwards, she needed to be carried up and down for months.

What a scary fall, though! I hope Supermum is better and Dudelet starts feeling more confidence.

Julia and Susan, thank you.

niobe said...

This is so sad. There's just no way to understand why these things happen.

S. said...

On one level it's very simple--a man had a gun and he used it. In a society that embraces guns that's very easy to understand.

On another level, it's impossible. Out of all the ifs that had to come together for it to be Helen who was in his path ... if any one of them had been different, she'd be here. And I wouldn't be blogging. And I'd give that up in less than a heartbeat if it would make a difference.

But the ifs happened to come together deadly, horribly wrong and there's not a single thing to do to change it.

E. said...

It's utterly senseless.