As we walk, my eyes search out stones which interest me. I pick up a big flint with a hole through it, a ‘hagstone’, which I keep, with the intention of working with it in some way for laying at my brother’s grave. At the woodland burial site we’re not allowed to have any permanent markers or place any obvious or unnatural materials. As a result the earth where he lays is becoming a treasure trove of hidden gifts found and created from our wanderings and creative ingenuity.
My son wades into the sea as far as his boots allow him, sun lowering in the sky and shimmering across the ripples on the water’s surface. I stop and watch his silhouette against the golden light. Beautiful. Breathing it in. I try to hold onto it in my mind, to keep its imprint as a memory, because I know that so much of the vitality and radiance will be dulled and flattened in the photo I take. Dozens of geese resting in the shallows take flight as we approach and the sky is filled with their movement.
I drop behind because I’m still taking photographs though the light is getting low now. The bright reds of rosehips and the slightly darker hawthorn berries are just holding onto the last shine of the sun for perhaps a few minutes more. Father and son are striding purposefully back to the car now. Holding hands. Chatting. I wonder how long we have left of him not being embarrassed to hold our hands, to enjoy our company. Then I remind myself that nothing is inevitable, especially the form that change takes. For now, only this matters. What comes later will tell it’s own story in its own time.