Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal

'Seeing that boy's body reminded me of my little boy and it broke my heart'

‘He’s somebody’s son. He’s all our sons’, writes Steve O’Rourke.

YESTERDAY, MY LITTLE boy and I went to the zoo. We saw tigers and gorillas, giraffes and lions. He was probably more exited about the pigeons that tried to steal his lunch than any of the actual animals we were there to see but his smile, his infectious enthusiasm for everything, filled my heart with joy in ways I never imagined possible before he came into my life.

Today I saw a picture of another little boy. He looks the same age as my son and maybe that’s why the sight of him, limp and lifeless, washed up on a beach struck such a chord.

Every time my mind wanders I can’t help but see his tiny body, red t-shirt, blue shorts face down in the sand between the sea and shore where hundreds, thousands of other little boys have played before.

And my heart breaks.

He’s somebody’s son. He’s all our sons.

Yesterday, as we walked around the zoo, I worried about the cost of childcare, the price of diesel, the million petty agitations that consume me daily. Then I watched my son’s jig of delight as a spider monkey tried to high five him through the looking glass and none of it mattered. Every hour I work, every night out I turn down, it’s all for him.

I will always be there for him, to give him the best possible life I can.

Today, as I looked at another photo of that little boy, smiling with his older brother, I think about his parents, about the hundreds of thousands of parents who are so desperate they put their lives, the lives of their children, at risk for the chance of something, anything better than the world they’ve left behind.

ind-4 Source: Aylan Humanitude/YouTube

It was always for him, to give him the best possible life they could.

And my heart breaks.

He’s somebody’s son. He’s all our sons.

Yesterday, as we left the zoo, my little boy fell asleep and I had to carry him to the car. I would have put him in his buggy but I was terrified he’d wake up cranky for not having enough sleep.

Today, on Twitter, on the front of nearly every newspaper, I see a photo of another little boy being carried off a beach and he looks like he too could have just drifted off. But that little boy will never wake up.

And my heart breaks.

He’s somebody’s son. He’s all our sons.

Yesterday, by an accident of birth, my little boy and I went to the zoo. But as my son and I were having the time of our lives, the life of someone else’s son was coming to an end.

The little boy’s name was Aylan Kurdi and he, along with his brother Galip would have been welcome in my home at any time.

I’d have happily brought him along to the zoo, listened as he, like my own son, tried to get his mouth around the word elephant, settling for ‘effifant’ instead.

Aylan Kurdi was somebody’s son. Aylan Kurdi was all our sons.

And we failed him.

Some parents we are.

Steve O’Rourke is a writer for The 42 and is also a dad to one. 

Read: These are the smiling faces of Aylan and Galip Kurdi, the two brothers who drowned trying to reach Europe>

Read: Ireland will do more: ‘Dead bodies of young children on the shores of Europe — we can’t let that lie’>


    Back to top