Yesterday, my friend Louise posted a picture on my Facebook wall.
It’s of my godson, Ellis, with his Race For Life back sign on.
He’s just turned seven. Auntie Stevie is me.
And there isn’t a word for how I felt when I saw it.
Well, there’s not true. There are lots of words. Happy. Sad. Proud. (Apart from anything else, just look at that mighty fine handwriting.) Gratitude for the very fact of Ellis. Full of regret that Ellis needs to know about cancer, and oddly happy memories of the days when he and his Mum kept me in tea and company while I got slowly better. Swamped by the memory of the delight I felt when Ellis, aged 4, told me that I looked ‘weird and a bit scary’ without my hair. So sorry to be sharing a back sign with a woman who would have adored him and a little boy who really shouldn’t be going through what he is.
No, there is no one word that sums up what went on in my solar plexus when I saw this picture: the jump and shudder of memory and love and life and darkness, the balance of sweet and sour, the love given and received and given back. But that moment was as vivid as one of Ellis’s drawings, as painful as kneeling on a piece of his lego, as happy as sitting on the top deck of a double-decker bus with him.
And maybe that’s right. Maybe some things are just too complicated, too big, too full of heart and soul to be easily flicked from the mouth. Rather like the thank-you i want to say.