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I have him

published: 2011-01-02

Do we model life after the symbols that have been mapped out for us or vice versa? Pieta, a mother and her dead son. Maria and Jezus. Kathe Kollwitz was endlessly inspired by this theme. She lost a son herself.
This morning I was at the pool. A young couple had arrived and were out early, enjoying the sun. They had one child: a toddler son. They were laid back, a little rough on the edges. Not the doting kind. Neither they, nor their toddler seemed to know any fear. They smoked cigarettes, threw their son around in the pool. At one stage, mother turns her back to her son. He is balancing along the edge of the pool. I am relatively close to him. Suddenly he sits down, turns around to let himself slide into the deep side of the pool. It happens in a split second. Mother screams and I leap. I manage to catch on to his little wrist. He dangles from my hand while she splashes wildly and in an uncoordinated way towards us. She seems unaware that he is safe, that I have him.
By the time she has reached him, she gropes around manically hoping to hold him and herself up (she keeps bobbing up and down beneath the surface, “this is what panic does,” is what I think). In that next split second she looks at me. Her eyes carry an expression I have never before seen. One of desperation and simultaneously of a deep understanding. In that split second, we are communicating to eachother the entire story of a mother and her dead son.
“I have him,” I tell her as she is still groping around. I tell her again. I shout this time, “I have him.”

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