A cat has many ways to enter. As I was fumbling with the garden gate today, one paused to look at me with mild contempt and then jumped up onto the wall and slithered through the hedge, all the while watching me from the corner of his eye, making sure I was in full awareness of my ponderous inferiority.

So it is with despair. It does not need the lonely midnight hour, the time of grief, the thunderstorm. Not for it the cataleptic lyricism of a suicidal Alan Poe, the spiritual torment of Dostoievsky. Art, after all, is not life.

A single yellow rose in a run down front yard can bridge the gap between the imagined and the tangible grief. A holiday program on television can remind you of all the happiness you wish you could believe you deserve – the white beaches, the blue water, the trim figure, the smile.

What is a child after all but a finger in the dam of life. We summon them to shriek and clamour, and drown out the impossible, cavernous, sucking silence of oblivion. They do not thank us, as we do not thank our parents. Their pain is our doing. Their lives are our work.

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