'The Shell' by Sonja Eagle

I smile as I look at the shells in my bathroom, souvenirs from a Mediterranean holiday. I went with my son many years ago hoping the sunshine and warm air would make us feel a little better. As we sat on the beach next to the sparkling rock pools and natural carved waterfalls, I think we both gradually relaxed and started to smile.

     He’d been such a sad little boy for the last year, since that horrendous day his father left us so suddenly.  It is difficult for an adult to comprehend death but for a small four year child it was beyond understanding.  He lost his daddy but he also lost his play buddy, his let’s see what we can get away with adult.   I was the ‘must tidy up now’ and ‘not too many sweets’ adult, not nearly so much fun.  He tried very hard to behave and help, which was far too much responsibility for a little boy.  He worried about finances and other people dying, especially after the goldfish died as well. Who was next? He was obsessed with drawing tombstones with various inscriptions, and terrible black backgrounds. 

      A few days into the holiday he became a little bored; five year olds don’t enjoy lying in the sun and reading.  I went out and bought him a cheap plastic snorkel and mask to play around with in the water.   Before letting him have a go I decided to try it out for myself. Lazily splashing in a very warm rock pool, I discovered a new world; a micro environment with its own spectrum of life. An array of wonderful colours, amazing shaped fish and squidgy entities.

      'Mummy Mummy when can I have a go?'

      I reluctantly handed over the snorkel and watched as my son also disappeared into that incredible world.  After a while I realised I wasn’t going to get my hands on the snorkel again and I couldn’t bear it, so I had to go and buy another snorkel and mask. We spent hours shrieking, splashing, laughing, hiding and having so much fun.

     My son and I spent the rest of the holiday exploring new pools and even the sea bed as we ventured out into this world under the water.  We collected beautiful delicate shells, strange looking stones and weird fossils that looked as if they had been calcified for thousands of years.   

     One afternoon he sat underneath a small waterfall and as the water splashed all around him sparkling in the sunlight, he laughed with joy and he turned his wise little face towards me and said, ‘Mummy, this is being alive isn’t it.’


Sonja Eagle  January 2012



Photograph 'Shell' by Sonja Eagle © Sonja Eagle 2012