My younger son is almost exactly one year older than Madeleine was when she disappeared. He's still a baby, really: just learning to read and write, can't tie his shoelaces or brush his teeth without (patient) adult assistance, he still sneaks in bed beside me for cuddles most nights, he still makes a raucous scene when he doesn't get his own way, and he still, at the age of almost five, sometimes sucks a dummy. (Yes, i know I should have made him go cold turkey years ago). He is inexhaustible, over-excitable, stubborn, impatient, boisterous, funny, fearless and affectionate, with a gorgeously expressive face peppered with freckles, and a wild mop of beautiful bright copper hair that he refuses to have cut (he doesn't even like me combing it). He can recite "where the wild things are" off by heart, complete with adorable actions.
I think I probably don't need to add: I love him. With every fibre of my body and soul, I love that quirky little boy.
I don't need to add it because I've conveyed my love for him in my description of him. I don't even need to be particularly gushing with my compliments (because oh yes, he sure can be a little sh*t, too, sometimes).
A mother's love transcends words of course; it's just there, ever-present, like oxygen and sunlight. You don't even need to be a parent yourself to discern that palpable, unmistakable, unfakeable love, love that is limitless and instinctive and vital, the love every ordinary mother (or father) feels for their child because they are literally incapable of feeling anything more or anything less. You can sense it just by watching them interact together, or detect it in the parent's eyes and tone of voice when they are talking about their child. It's an emotion that supersedes and eclipses everything else.
Above, I wrote just one paragraph describing my son, and yet that one paragraph conveys a more authentic and vivid idea of the kind of child he is than the 400+ pages of Kate McCann's 'madeleine' book manages to convey about its eponymous tragic protagonist. That's because the protagonist of 'madeleine' isn't, in fact, Madeleine at all, with either a big 'M' or a little 'm'. It's all about her mummy, all in capitals. And her daddy, the heroic co-star; and the unassailable virtuousness and blamelessness of both.
Can you imagine losing your firstborn child - whether through death or abduction - and writing a book about them but actually making it all about you? Your feelings. Your life, your opinions, your fears, your achievements, your obsessions, your strengths and admirable resilience against adversity. Your worthiness.
Can you imagine losing your child and just a month later being greeted by a sea of placards and posters with your child's face...
...and SMILING? Standing beside your husband, looking out at hundreds of children who have never even met you or the daughter you've lost, but there they all are, showing they care, holding up pictures of her... and yet both of you... the devastated desperate parents... you're both just... smiling, beaming. How is that even possible? How??
Just a few weeks later, mere months after losing your child, a beautiful three year old, your precious and yearned-for firstborn, could you... stand beside your husband, holding up a T-shirt depicting the face of your child, a T-shirt that is just one sample of mass-produced thousands for an online merchandise store... could you stand and smile unabashedly for a promotional snapshot?
, still apparently no closer to finding your lost beloved child or knowing her fate, can you imagine holding an age progression picture of her in front of a camera crew without your knees buckling helplessly beneath you and your face contorting with unbearable, wretched sorrow?
Can you imagine posing stoically for that photo, over and over again, with flawless hair and makeup, while your husband barely contains his smirk beside you? Your own face not giving away even a flicker of emotion, not the slightest suggestion of puffy eyes or anxiety or insomnia. How is that possible, if you love like a mother does?
All of the above is my opinion only and represents the main reason, as a mother, I can never, ever believe Kate McCann, and nor should anyone reasonably expect me to.