It is, actually, a rather striking coincidence: two men vying to be prime minister of Britain have both lost children. Cameron lost his six-year-old disabled son only a year ago; Brown's wife gave birth to a severely premature child who lived only ten days. The two men have expressed emotion in public about their loss and the world-weary Brits have rolled their eyes. Not Wife In The North:
My child (stillborn at term) would be 10 if I hadn't lost him. Lost him like a sock or glove or pair of spectacles for reading. Just like that. But worse. And what these pundits don't understand is Brown and Cameron don't have a choice to talk or not to talk, to weep or not to weep, because the life and death of their children runs right through them.
Tragedy defines them more than any manifesto ever could. Whatever power each man holds or chases, he would abandon it all, without hesitation, for just one more day with his lost child.
He would sell his own soul for his lovely political wife never to have had her heart broken up into ugly pieces that no policy or strategic thinking - however clever and well-meaning - could ever mend. These party leaders may day-dream of glory, but at night they dream of sons and daughters they can no longer hold.
They are not wrong to talk about it, they are right. Unspoken griefs twist and turn and do not grow smaller for darkness and a lack of air. They speak their children's names and they tell of their sorrows because to do otherwise would be to deny those children, it would be to say those children came and went, and that coming and that going did not matter in the scheme of things. Honesty in politicians - isn't that a good thing?
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