The most beautiful thing is to watch your children fall asleep. Early on, the relief that they are finally at rest too often outweighs an appreciation of the grace of their descent towards it. Later, there comes an awareness – and it is a hammer-blow of knowledge – that they will wake one day more old. There is nothing that can be lived again, nothing which can be clawed back.

Tonight, they whisper their last words, which are precise echoes of the ones I have spoken to them; smiles, which mirror the ones they receive from me. I crane to place a kiss on Tilly’s head. I stoop to find Bessie’s bunk and I roll in beside her, and I wrap an arm around her and she puts her arm over and around mine. I can see only the side of her forehead and cheek, the faintest outline of her nose, and the shuttering fold of skin which is open and fixed in one position and which then closes. And it is that fold of skin which transfixes. It is there where our energy and our love and our thoughts meet. It opens and it closes. That lid which covers and reveals is all there is: this quiet relies on it, this half-dark sits still around it. Her breathing slows. Heaviness sets in. Lassitude cannot fend off its weight. For now, there is no tomorrow and there is no need to mourn what will be yesterday. It opens and it closes. It opens and it closes. Only this.

It closes.