Friday, 30 May 2008

Fritzl children Stefan and Felix see the moon.

Quite often, as evening begins to draw in, my little grandson, now aged 20 months, starts talking about the moon. He wants to look out of his window if he is at home, or he scans the sky if he is out and about. The above photo is one that I found for him, printed and laminated following an evening when we went out looking for the moon and we returned home, with a little laddie telling his mum, lips quivering and tears rolling gently down his cheeks, "Moooooon gone. Mooooon gone." I have been surprised by such a young child's fascination for the moon, which I associate with his having been born on the day of a lunar eclipse, but his mum, who gives no credence to such things, disagrees. That doesn't matter, though. She will always be my star!

I have just come back from a few days of sharing a holiday on the coast with my grandson and his mum and dad. Three adults derived immense delight from seeing a small child wriggling his toes in the sand, filling his bucket with water, and leaping with shrieks of joy in the little waves washing over the sand. On the way back to our holiday house, he was looking for the moon, but there was no inconsolable sadness when we did not spot it: he now knows that the moon hasn't gone and if we don't see it today, we can look tomorrow.

As I was sitting here in my little house, wondering what it would be like if my whole world were the small room in which I was sitting, and I couldn't draw the curtains back on the large bay window and see the trees, or go into the kitchen, where the door is open on fine days so that I can hear the birds, go and sit out there with a book, watch the squirrel eat all the nuts I put out for the birds, I decided to see what the latest news was about the Fritzl family. The Daily Telegraph has some very good articles on the subject, but the one that I found really poignant was about Stefan, aged 18, and Felix, aged 5, seeing the moon for the first time.

"The best bit though was when they saw the moon. They were just open mouthed with awe, and were nudging each other and pointing. They had never even seen the moon." *

Since this case first erupted into the media and the whole horror of it began to be known, I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to emerge from a small, windowless space, in which one has spent one's entire life, to the seeming vastness of the real world, where the wind blows through the trees, a wind that may have been born many many miles and dreams away as a butterfly beat its wings in an unimaginable place over the unknown seas. The image of Stefan and Felix, being led from their dim underground world at night, sitting in a car, suddenly seeing the moon for the first time and being awe-struck, is a vivid picture in my mind of their faces, alight with wonder at the sudden vastness of their world. Suddenly the world above Stefan's head is not a low ceiling but the endless dome of the heavens, where the moon travels her daily orbit.

When I next go moon-gazing with my little grandson, I shall thank God that Stefan and Felix are out in the world, under that same moon. And I shall thank God for their mother, who has, in that dim and restricted cave of their underground world, managed to instill in her children the capacity for delight, wonder and happiness. May those children always know that they are safe and secure in their expanded world and find their unique place in it.

*Daily Telegraph April 30th 2008