Every time I heard you cry
I would have been three, the first time I remember hearing my mother crying. I canít be sure as my memories of this time are generally fuzzy, however, itís strange that although I have few clear recollections of my early toddler years, this one remains with me with frightening clarity.
It was late at night, early morning, when I woke to the eerie sounds of her uncontrollable sobs echoing from her bedroom. The night has a mysterious way of making everything much louder, natureís own amplifier. I got out of bed and walked to the safety gate straddling the door of my small bedroom. I stood there for a while before calling out.
"Muummmy, muummy." There was no answer so I waited for a little longer, although I suppose it seemed like an age at the time, before calling out to her again.
"Muummy, muummy. What wrong mummy?"
The sobbing subdued enough for my mother to answer her inquisitive toddler. "Everythingís Ok darling, itís sleepy time, go back to bed."
"I want sleep in mummy bed." I said.
My mother appeared at the door, walked across the landing, and lifted me over the safety gate. Her eyes were dark, bloodshot, and wet. She sniffled as she fought back the waves of tears, but despite her obvious distress, she picked me up with all the affection that only a parent can during the early hours, before carrying me into her room.
"Where daddy?" I asked.
"Heís not home." She replied.
We cuddled up, lost in the middle of my parentís large bed, lost in the darkness of the starless night, and fell asleep.
It was another seven years before I once again heard my mother cry like that night. This time however, unconstrained by those white metal safety gates, I headed off to her room to enquire about the problem.
My mother sat on the end of her bed, half-undressed. She had just broken down in the middle of getting ready for bed and started sobbing uncontrollably.
"Whatís wrong?" I asked, but she never replied. "Daddy?"
She just nodded her head and continued sobbing. I walked over, put my arms around her, and comforted her in the only way that a ten year old knows. "Itíll be all right, youíll see." I said.
Six years later, I once again woke to that tell tale sound. Familiar with the nature of the sound and the routine, I went to her bedroom to assist her with the pain of a broken heart.
It would be twenty years before I heard that sound again, a cry that would rival that of my motherís. My self, sat upright in bed, sobbing in the middle of the night. I wasnít sure why I had started this impromptu crying, but through my distress, I could hear the sound of my daughter calling from her bedroom. "Daaaddy, Daaaddy."
As I entered the landing, I watched her, stood at her safety gate, true concern in her eyes as she asked me. "What wrong daddy?"
I remembered myself in that exact position all those years ago, and everything became clear.
"Itís okay petal, I was just remembering your granddad." I picked her up, lifted her over the gate, and returned to my bedroom.
When we got there, it was lit by the ambient glow of the bedside lamp. "Whatís wrong?" my wife asked, but I never answered her. "Your father?"
"Yes." I replied, "You know, he died thirty three years ago tonight and I was thinking about how my mother cried for him every year."