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War, Children And Snapshots Of Terror

Our Naples-based psychiatrist thinks back at a moment that has forever remained frozen in her mind. In the expression of her son's terror, she sees all the grieving mothers who can do nothing in the face of war.

A mother and her son walking towards a town or city.

A mother and her son walking together.

Tim Mossholder/Unsplash
Mariateresa Fichele

One day, years ago, my son decided to play a prank on me.

He hid in a corner of the garden, and despite our desperate calls and thorough searching, he stayed hidden for what seemed like a very a long time

Suddenly, he reappeared in front of me, with a satisfied little smile on his ace, as if he had successfully played a trick on us.

In that moment, after crying and fearing for him, it wasn't joy that I was overcome with when I saw him again, but anger and frustration. I slapped him.

Immediately after, I tried to bring him close to me to hug him, but he recoiled, and an expression formed on his face, one that’s been vividly etched into my mind like a snapshot.

His face expressed terror — for me, for his mother, for the person he should never have felt betrayed by.

That image has never left me, and I see it as a warning, as the emblem of my greatest fear: seeing that expression in my son's eyes again.

And today I can't help but think that all children are the same, that there are mothers who are hugging their frightened children at this very moment, powerless.

A mother may be able to protect her child from herself, but she cannot do the same for others, those who don't have that snapshot of terror imprinted on their conscience. Because if they did, wars could never exist.


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