Tonight I had a bath with Tilly. Her hair was well past due for a wash, so we did that first. Her terror of getting water in her eyes always makes it a somewhat protracted process, but we got there in the end.
Then it was my turn. I bent forward as far as my ageing hamstrings would allow, and she rubbed shampoo into my hair and then, using one of her blue plastic teacups, poured seemingly endless cupfuls of water over my head – stopping every so often to praise me for how good and patient I was being.
It was one of those perfect moments: warm water running through my hair and over my face, while a child that is more precious to me than I can believe mirrors back to me the love and tenderness that I’d just shown to her.
There was a point at which I stepped back from the experience, picked it up and turned it over in my hand. And it occurred to me that this was one of those moments in life that prove that it is, after all, better to exist – even with the knowledge of how fleeting life is – than not to exist; that it is better to have a body – even one that will one day fail you – than not to have one; and it is better to be an emotional being – even though some of those emotions are excruciating beyond belief – than not to feel a thing.