When I gave my latest novel, Children of The Plantation, its final edit I came across a line I’d written that made me stop and think for a moment. The line goes something like this. “Some moments define us—define a place and time, who we are to ourselves and to each other.” Thinking about it I realised these moments we hang onto desperately, because they come unexpectedly, they are so fleeting, and if lost, we lose a part of who we are with them.
Planning my writing for that day, I considered how many memories would slip away during the course of my life, and realized how many of them would be memories that really mattered. Memories that define us and how much we would lose if we lost them altogether.
One memory came sharply to mind. My oldest child was about four or five years old, and he had been playing a childish game of doctors and nurses with his younger sister. They were dressed up in play clothes and fussed over a toy case containing plastic thermometers, bandages, swabs and a stethoscope. At the time I was still a practicing Registered nurse and I possessed a real stethoscope. Both children were fascinated by my shiny scope and I thought the oldest might like to hear through one that worked. I draped the scope around his shoulders, fitted the earpieces into his ears, and held the stethoscope bell end to his heart, and let him listen. The picture on his face was enchanting as he grinned at me when I said, “That’s your heart.”
“Mummy can I hear yours?”
I put the stethoscope over my heart and he listened. He stood there, spellbound as an expression of wonder crept over his face. I watched him, pondering at the serious look in his eyes. After what seemed a long time, he said, simply, “It’s beautiful.”
Just five years old, innocent and sweet. With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat I realised he was hearing the music that had been his first symphony. He was hearing the sound of his existence before there was light or air, of which had been echoed again and again while I nursed him.
I don’t believe I’d heard him say those two words about anything before.
They were, simply, his words for that moment—for the two of us and who we had been to each other before we saw each other’s faces and who we were now.
How we see the world, changes in these defining moments, and it never goes back to the way it was before. For me, forever more, the words “It’s beautiful” will conjure the face of my five-year-old son, wide-eyed and stock-still, listening via my stethoscope to the beating of my heart.
Children of The Plantation available on amazon.com