Slowly but surely, inch by inch, I am losing a son. I look back and see feel again that head on my shoulder, that first real physical contact, when a six year old boy looked into my eyes and said “You’re my new mummy”. It was the first time we’d met, and the social worker and I took him for a walk on his new roller blades – predictably he’d fallen, and I had been there to catch him in my open arms.
I remember so many things. The first glimpse I had of him in his school before we were introduced. It was Ash Wednesday and there he was, sitting outside the school office as he’d fallen over on the playground and bumped his knee, the mark of a cross on his forehead because the school had just come back from the church. I remember teaching him to read, helping him overcome his fear of heights, introducing him to the swimming pool (It’s deep, mummy, it’s deep!) and gradually building his confidence until his swimming left me miles behind him. I remember curling up together on the sofa to watch TV. I remember the first day that I really realised he was growing up. I remember teaching him to play, to use his imagination. I remember taking him to see Michael Morpurgo, taking him to his first Shakespeare, taking him abroad for the first time. I remember my boy who brought such joy into my life.
I cling to those memories and treasure them.
Today he has been transferred. I cannot go into details, but he’s in more trouble again. I knew the transfer was coming and had arranged with the prison that I would visit before it took place, but it was all done far more quickly than anyone had anticipated and he was gone before they could even let me know. He’s now physically an impossible distance away, and in many ways emotionally just as far. And I find myself unable even to find the words to write to him.