A loud thud filled the air with a sickly resonance.
A sound which encapsulates the unpleasant knowledge
that something is horribly untoward. A sound so grotesque, it penetrates deep
into oneís soul, endlessly habituating the mind with its potent, haunting
Jed cautiously pulled himself up from a chair on the
shaded side of the verandah and, as if negotiating a safe passage through shards
of broken glass, he judiciously crept towards a secure space within close
proximity to the open front door. He moved step by step, until finding a
position that did not intrude, and then stood motionless, as if he were in some
way willing himself to become invisible.
Although somewhat protected by his age, he was old
enough to make sense of the dialogue between his mother and Constable OíBrien.
Jed had listened intently from his chair, carefully
selecting the words the police officer (who had done most of the talking)
delivered with a precise rhetoric of both apology and clinical precision. The
conversation was a spoken tone, unfamiliar to Jed, and although somewhat foreign
in its delivery, he had understood clearly the impact of the police officerís
deliberate and measured tone.
ďMrs Bourke, Eli is unfortunately deceased!Ē
Jed looked solemnly downwards towards his mother who
was now prone, sobbing childlike on the lounge room floor where she had
spontaneously collapsed, like an emptied sack, only seconds earlier.
He had always been protected from adult emotion, as
children should be. But at this moment Jed was neither prepared for such a
catastrophe, nor could a boy of his age be expected to have the requisite adult
discernment to adequately render assistance without warrant of some entitled
His mouth became parched and his tongue felt as if it
had been welded to his upper palate. Numbness washed across his whole body as if
his own breath had been stolen by heat.
Reaching out to his mother, Jedís young arms gathered
strength, and she responded to his gentle offering.
Not comfortable with eye contact, it felt much safer
for him to hide behind closed eyes.
He placed his arms tenderly around his mother and she
reciprocated with a loving embrace, as if she never wanted to release her son
from her contact.
Jed would never pull back; he was sensitive enough to
understand his mother needed him at this moment in time, now, more than ever.
He felt her heart pounding mechanically against his
own chest and the wetness from her tears find their mark upon his T-shirt.
No words were spoken. Even after Jedís slow release,
his mother stood motionless, as if cast in stone.
A chilling silence fell upon them with a propensity
that ensured the moment was captured by their infinite grief.
His motherís face was lost in a sea of emotion which
he was doomed powerless to prevent. Despite his youth, Jed clearly understood
the moment would not be justified by shattering her litany of pain with idle
words. After what seemed like an eternity, Jed took a deep breath, stood tall,
glanced purposefully at his mother and delivered his message. A message that had
been running through his mind like a well-rehearsed line stolen from a B-grade
movie. He didnít want to speak but something inside him released his dry tongue
from the safety of its sanctum.
ďDonít worry; it will be alright, Mum.Ē
He knew his words didnít contain the eloquence
necessary to dilute his motherís loss but Jed now had to do his best to fix
things. All kinds of things, which for someone his age was presently far too
concerning to justify realistic contemplation. Jed, however, did understand his
position, possibly with greater resolve than most boys of his age. From this day
forward he was now destined for vital elevation.
When someone you love and admire dies without notice,
there is no time to prepare. Loss is delivered by an instantaneous force which
grotesquely sucks away oneís life with relentless zeal. It leaves its victim in
a state of utter numbness, unable to register the consequences of future
contemplation without the love of their life.
Youth is never totally immune to the process of
sorrow but their world has a tendency to create more decoys than an adult one,
which generally protects them with greater efficiency.
Jed really had little choice, his place in the world
was now ordained by his fatherís untimely passing.
He now had very little option in performing the role
as his motherís man child.