We’re hanging photographs on the bedroom wall. I’ve had a dozen of my favourite snaps of the children blown-up and framed: three boys paddling in an Isle of Wight estuary on a glorious late August afternoon; Eldest giving Middle One a piggyback in an autumnal London park; Youngest One’s little face, beaming, emerging from a bubble-filled bath, and lots more happy, sunny memories from the past. They make me smile and they make my heart ache in equal measure.
Later, Eldest comes back from the school ski trip: a whole week away from his family in the French Alps. He had a fantastic time. In the hall, I hug his surprisingly long, lean body. “Welcome home!” I gush, “We missed you!” He doesn’t quite meet my eye; he's a little aloof, separate. I feel strangely shy. Still, he lets me wrap my arms around him resting my head softly against his neck. He stands motionless for just a moment gently placing his arms back around me… then breaks away announcing he has presents for his brothers, two bright stripy lollies retrieved from the depths of a rucksack.
I try not to ask too many questions and after dinner, sitting with us on the sofa, he gradually starts to talk about the trip. Once began, it’s as if he can’t stop, talking and talking and talking: a booming man's voice ringing out across the room. I’d forgotten how loud he is. He’s stayed up late, he’s made new friends, he likes new music, he’s eaten new foods, he can ski, he can even do ski jumps now, he shows us a picture to prove it. He’s the same, but very slightly different, a tiny bit more grown up. Certainly not that little boy in the photograph on our bedroom wall, the one where he's running out of the sea towards the camera; a huge smile on his face, arms out-stretched, about seven years-old. He’s becoming someone else. And that’s why I want to remember. I want to remember it all.