Cherub

Michael Tippett

I used to be a selfish man.
             Never cruel or avaricious; merely unaccustomed to living outside myself. That all changed the moment you arrived. There you were, the very best of me, a tiny bundle full of promise and possibilities.
             Watching you grow was a delight. Each day delivered a magic show and I was enthralled by even your simplest trick. It’s a wondrous thing to witness a human being take shape. To see them thrive and develop a sense of self. Barely three years old and already glimpses of the remarkable woman you would become . . .
             If not for the horror of that day.
             Your heart, your precious heart, too great and insuppressible to be contained in a body so delicate. My memory of the events that followed is patchy at best. But I do remember the calls. The animal sounds that roared and howled in my ear as I phoned everyone that ever loved you and broke them.
             Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
             Your mother and I left the hospital sometime later, returning to a home haunted by a pervasive absence. The new quiet was deafening.
             Your bedroom was now a museum, full of exhibits left to gather dust amongst the fossilised remains of bedtime stories and goodnight kisses and dreams that would never be realised. Outside, our backyard had become a graveyard. Orphaned toys stuck out of the grass like cheap plastic tombstones. In a corner, the sun-faded crypt of a cubby house had been hastily abandoned.
             There is a madness that grips the mind when it strives to make sense of the senseless; to incessantly ponder the answer to the great unsolvable riddle. In the end, all I can do is tell myself: you were never meant for this.
             
You were destined to climb mountains.
             To cure cancer.
             To build rocket ships and fly to the moon.
             You were made for greatness.
             Or a lifetime of pleasant mediocrity.
             Because above all things, you were simply meant to be.        
             Thirteen months have passed and I still wait for you to twirl out of your room, weaving worlds in your head and inviting me to be a part of them.
             There are times when I worry the hurt will never leave. The only thing that scares me more is perhaps one day it will. That somehow the easing of your loss will signify the fading of your memory, and I’ll soon forget the details of your perfect cherub face.
             Despite the gnawing ache, your mother and I are determined to keep moving with the world. We recently travelled abroad. Remarried in Vegas. I even climbed a mountain. (Plans for a rocket ship are currently underway.)
             We both agree on this: if we cannot live with you, we shall endeavour to live for you