A middle-aged almost bald man, with the most beautiful light blue eyes I’ve ever seen, bought two children’s books on ancient Greece. I put a free book mark in the bag.
“Thank you very much,” said the man, who spoke in a cultured English accent, “My son will be pleased with the bookmark, because he already loves reading,” and he pointed to a pale boy of about eight, dressed in an old-fashioned black school uniform with tie, and short pants.
“Congratulations!” I said, “It’s important that we encourage our children to read, otherwise they’ll just sit in front of the TV.”
“Yes, it’s important because our other son died.”
He didn’t wait for me to come up with an appropriate response, but continued, almost as though he were talking to himself, “He was killed in a car accident… A few months ago,” and looking out the window added, “He was three,”
Oh my god! I felt my eyes beginning to water, “I’m very sorry,” I said, “Please accept my sincere condolences.”
He was going to say something, but his wife and son joined him, and he stopped talking.
The little boy looked down at the ground, and seemed so sad. “I think it’s wonderful that you like to read.” I said
“He reads all the time,” said his Dad
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Seven,” he said in a small voice, looking at his shoes.
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading the books your Dad just bought you. They are both perfect for a boy your age.” I said
“Thank you. I can’t wait to read my new books,” he said looking up at me with his father’s blue eyes, “I’ve already read a book about a boy who lived in Pompeii, and I’m going to read these all by myself.”
“You must be very smart,” I said.
“He is,” said his Dad.
“Do you ever read under the covers with a flashlight?”
“Oh yes,” he said, his face lighting up with the memory.
and then they left.
Did you know that there isn’t a name in English for a parent whose child has died? Do other languages have a special name?