Peter, Pam, and Gareth Jenkins, Ynysmeurig Road, Abercynon,

Mountain Ash, Wales South.

 

‘That day in late May 1915, when Evans, the Post, brought the letter, I shall never forget. My guts turned to water, and I knew we'd lost our boy. Pam had to find out sooner or later, but first, I read it alone to confirm it was from the Army--and it did confirm my worst fears.

‘Pam read it and just folded up as if all the juices had been drained out of her. I laid her flat until she was better, then got her a cup of tea.

‘We sat and looked at each other over the kitchen table in shock. There were no tears yet, no mental reflection-nothing. It was as if we were false people, like cardboard statues of real people. I started to get an inkling into her loss as a mother versus mine as a father.

‘At some point, she dissolved into tears, keening at her loss. She shouted in anger at the death of her child, her strong young man, her hope, her joy--her Gareth.

‘Later on, she told me, 'At that precise moment, I was drowning in a black hole. It was like being a coal miner going down the pit then having two big doors slam shut behind me, with water filling the mine in the dark and no hope of escape. There was no sunlight. There was no joy, no happiness, and no future. It was as though I had spent my life as part of one beautiful painting, only to have someone unseen destroy it. It negated my past, held me ransom in the present, and allowed for no future. The word “life” had been removed from me by some unknown entity, taking away who I was'.