The ghost of a son imagined.


The ghost of a son imagined is one I have fought hard to lose.

For a long time, I have not been able to bring myself to look at photographs of my youngest son Max.

Max is two years old and has the most beautiful brown eyes you will ever see.

Despite his outward beauty, I feel utter sadness and devastation at times when I look at his photographs from “before”.

The ghost of my son imagined.

I try to protect my heart by not looking back.

If I look at his smiling baby face in his old photographs, a lump grows in my throat, pushing itself upwards, threatening me with heartbreak.

My eyes sting, giving me my final warning to stop before it is too late.

Sometimes I ignore the warnings and I sit on the floor and really look at my gorgeous Max. Each photograph tells the story of his life so far.

Every time, anguish flows from my heart in spasms of indescribable hurt, flooding my eyes.

The lump in my throat broken free now, as promised, it tears my heart to shreds.

Silent sobs wash over my body as steady as waves meet shore.

I can’t stop the hurt, so I accept it and I continue to look, photo after photo.


Each photograph is a memory frozen in time. 

Each photograph is a memory frozen in time. 

I torture myself.  

Wondering when did it happen? When did I start to lose the Max I had imagined? Was it from the start, the day he took his first breath in our world?

When I look back at his old photographs, I am haunted by the ghost of the son I had imagined. The one I was sure would speak, the one who would always call me mama.

The one who would kiss me goodnight and not push me away. The one who would seek me out for hugs and kisses.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the day we met. Before the heartache, before the loss of his words, were all I could think of.

Back then I just had Max, my beautiful new baby.

I didn’t have the worries I have now.

Back then I didn’t pray at night I would hear his voice again.

In some of his photographs he smiles back at me, in others, he is too busy to notice me in the background taking precious photos.


Looking for the signs of change.

The more I look at his photographs I start to see the vacant stare I know all too well. The low tone in his face.

I see the distance between he and I when I look back.

I feel sadness for the me who took those photographs as I recognise the hope in my eyes, that it would be alright this time.

My gorgeous Max would meet his milestones, that he would learn to speak and THIS time, he would be the one to keep his words.

He would be my first son to learn to speak and he would keep his words.

My heart had told me so and I believed for a while until I couldn’t be persuaded anymore once the silence came, like it always did, to each of my three boys.

I wish sometimes I could reach back into the photographs.

If I could go back in time.

I would give Max more hugs, more kisses and tell him it was all going to be alright. I would listen to all the words he couldn’t say but I could hear so clearly with my heart.   

I would hold his hand and tell him to not be afraid, that I would be beside until the very end of our time together.

Sometimes you have to lose the idea of who you think your child is, to fully appreciate who they are. I still have moments where I can’t see past the next moment of heartbreak and I wish I could take away all the challenges he now faces.


The reality is I can’t take away the challenges, but I can be with him when he faces them. I can try my best to teach him to communicate, to become independent. I can try my best to educate him, help him to prepare for his life without me one day.

I can hold his hand when he wants me to, I can accept his hugs if he one day wants to give me one. I can look into his beautiful eyes and see him whole, not the ghost of the boy I thought he would be.

I see him now as the boy he is. Full of love, full of hope and promise.

He is my day one.

He is my start of everything.

I love you my gorgeous Max, now and forever more.


1 Comment

  1. Kajal
    February 23, 2021 / 7:47 pm

    I read this post and felt each sentence resonate with me. It is as if you put EXACTLY what I have been feeling and thinking into words that I have not been able to find myself. Thank you for this.

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