My mother spoke to him before she turned away, leaving me humbled by the strength in her voice, by the courage of the human spirit that allows a frail mother of eighty-five to speak to her cherished dead son as if he were still there.
We miss him more each year, the reality that he is never coming back more brutal at each anniversary of his death. She told me yesterday that he once said he would never be old. He would be content to skip the option of life beyond the middle years. And she said she would hate to go on much longer now. Ageing is harsh and she can feel herself decaying. The last ten years have made her life a waiting game. No mother wants to outlive her child. She wants to join her husband and her son now and the thought that she will be with them at last blocks any fear of dying. Her life will be complete once she has gone. And I will have my wonderful memories of them all and be able to think of them together in peace.
We left that tranquil place and drove on through the narrow lanes dappled with shadows of fresh leaves, skirting round young pheasants exploring their new world, trying to make sense of it all and excited by its promise for as long as it lasts.
Then as I went home along the main roads, I saw a mature pheasant lying dead on the verge, but still with his glorious plumage being ruffled by the wind and shining vibrant in the sun.