And as I sit in my church on Remembrance Day, listening to the roll call of the dead, the same surname is read out. Twice. Brothers. And suddenly I have become their mother, on the doorstep, with my hand out, accepting the telegram from a boy on a red bike.
I am shaking.
Other mothers in the street have opened their doors, solemnly. Children have stopped playing. I cannot stop crying. Part of me has been ripped away.
And as a solemn trumpeter plays the first two notes of The Last Post, there I am again, 100 years ago, opening the same door, to the same messenger, and a very similar telegram.
I am walking to the kitchen and notice how the dust shimmers in the sunlight. The clock appears to have stopped.
I cannot believe that a God I trusted has taken away my beautiful boys. That a King I serve has sent them to their deaths. That my youngest, barely a man, was hit by friendly fire, killed by his own men. And that my eldest, so tall and proud, lay now in pieces on barbed wire somewhere in Belgium.
I am not allowed to shriek and wail, because other women in this town have suffered too, and they have born their pain with dignity and silence. But I want to die. I want to be with my little boys. I want to touch them again in what I think is heaven, feel their sweet cheeks on mine just once more.
I am still a mother. But a mother of no one.
God save the King.