When the story first broke you assumed he had gone for a wander. I even smiled to myself at the wee fella popping on his coat and clothes, gloves and shoes and heading out. I thought of my daughter Jenna and the fact that she’s a determined wee thing too and I could see her doing that. I, like so many others, expected him to turn up having gone somewhere or got lost, hiding in a play park or a secret place only he knew. As the story unfolded this morning and the truth began to unfurl you were left with a hole where that hope lay. To hear the mother is being questioned added to the confusion and the sense of emptiness left behind. Although there has been no arrest made it’s only a matter of time due to the location of the body. It’s not my place to second guess the investigation – but someone knows what happened.
Even though today my own kids have driven me to distraction with their screaming, moaning and general grumpiness (don’t know where they get it from) today I can’t imagine life without either of them. Whatever happened to Mikaeel will scar the family forever and I sincerely hope that it’s not the worst case scenario that lies behind the actual events, instead a tragic accident or panic or illness. It seems that month after month we hear of stories of parents killing their children, grown up children killing their parents and the worst of all when someone decides to take their own life after taking those of their children. So much heartbreak, hopelessness and negativity. And while the “give your kids an extra hug” motif doing the rounds on Social Media is correct there are a couple of other things to keep in mind.
Firstly look at the response of all those volunteers over the last couple of days who gave up their time to search for him – a selfless act with many having never met the family at all but just wanted to help. That generosity of time and spirit should be applauded and seen as a ray of light through this dark moment. The quick and great work of the police. It’s easy to forget that the same profession that people felt let down by with regard to “Plebgate” and the Mark Duggan shooting also lead by example her. They aren’t as one-dimensional as the media would have us believe – the vast majority of the boys and girls in blue are fantastic hardworking people that go that extra mile in these circumstances. Same for the local politicians who were involved in the search – it’s easy to be cynical but they gave up a lot of their time to support the search.Of course this is a tragic, heartbreaking and dark event that will haunt both sides of the Forth for the coming weeks and months but stand back and see all the other sides of the situation; find the hope, the positive, the lesson.
If it is Mikaeel’s body in those woods as has been reported then think of those parents who have to explain that situation to their three and four-year old children. We know only too well with Jake’s friend who died a couple of years ago, through very different circumstances, how difficult it is for everyone involved. Jake still misses him, talks about him and gets upset about it. Even though you explain it to the best of your ability there is no way to answer the hardest question they have – “Why?”. The loss of a child is hard to acknowledge, explain or accept and every other parent selfishly thinks “there but for the grace of god…”. With this very public and seemingly criminal death there is another level of grief and questions and I hope for everyone involved they are answered quickly.
I really hoped for once we’d have a little moment of shared celebration as a country. A moment where we saw his little face back with his family and the tale of his adventure and how he got lost or thought a dragon was chasing him so he hid in a cave-like shed. We would all have smiled, shaken our head and been relieved at the return of this great explorer. Instead we will have to watch the images of police stations, memorial services and the shrines of teddies and flowers from well wishers. Just once can we get a good news story that restores that hope that stories like this take from us?