Yesterday’s Facebook memory was a photo of Dan and J at Manchester Airport. They were heading off to Hamburg together, to visit Dan’s dad, Steve. Dan was 13, J 12.
Dan had already made the journey by himself a couple of times by then. I’d take him to the airport, wave him off as he headed through security, and then head home. I was usually back in Glossop by the time he would text me to say he was at the gate, ready to board. I’d message Steve, let him know our boy was on his way.
J accompanied Dan twice. The first time, as I recall, J dropped a can of coke that exploded everywhere just outside WH Smith, minutes after they had cleared security. Not a great start.
Dan’s grandad always gave me money to pass to Dan to spend at the airport. The idea was to cover the cost of the inflated food and drink prices, with a little extra should the flight be delayed and more food be required. The only time there was a any real delay was, of course, the time Dan and J had gone straight to a shop and spent all the money on a football.
J’s grown such a lot since the photo was taken. He’s taller than me, wiry. He’s a young man. I wonder what Dan would look like now? His face was sharpening into manhood when he died. I know he would have been handsome. In this photo his back is to me. I want to touch the back of his head, give his hair a ruffle, feel the strands on my fingers and the heat of his scalp. I want to feel him pull away and say, ‘Mu-um, geddoff’, and scowl at me. I want to grin back.