‘History related strange occurrences at St Mary’s Church – Reculver. Sounds of crying or cooing, they said, depending on your state of mind.

‘They were like dolls,’ my Grandmother told me. ‘Like penny babies. It seemed as if their bodies were shiny white alabaster, bound in cloth not much bigger than the apron on my dress’.

If I shut my eyes I could picture them, she having told me the tale so often. I was drawn to my Grandmother. Her experience was tightly woven into all of us.

‘I heard them from the house,’ she’d say. ‘Seems impossible I know.’

I could see her making her way down to the rocks that evening, her shoes made ragged and undone by the sea. She carried her own baby with her which made the task harder, right as not. Wrapped in their cocoons she could not believe what she saw, or hope that any of the tiny bundles bobbing in the water might still be alive. The task of getting them out seemed too great, she said, even after she’d managed to save the first one.

Inside the sling she carried around her, a mouth silently opened, dreaming of milk.

Folk from the village began to come when they heard a boat had gone down. Shunting the splintered timber away from the rocks they helped Grandmother to rescue the others. They said it was surely the strangest cargo any of them had ever seen. Not one adult was found amongst them.

* * *

Today was my Grandmother’s funeral and I saw where she chose to be buried. She did not hope for a place close to the doors of the church, not her. No, instead, the outer edges, on the other side of the stone wall that encircled the graveyard. She always said she believed it was God’s will that none of the others had lived but to be thought of as not worthy of resting in hallowed ground – for it were not known if any of them had been baptised, made her weep.

‘Wasn’t the sea holy water enough?’ She said.

Yet, it was because of her knowing, her inner call, that my Mam had a brother at all, as she came to call him.

The two of them are sitting downstairs now by the fire, a comfort to each other. I prefer to be here by the window looking out towards the church. I’m watching fireflies dancing above the wall. They put me in mind of the lamps jittering over the rocks, as everyone climbed down to the water.

Or maybe they’re more than that.

I know this might be a peculiar fancy but I can count eight of them white lights, like the eight bundles lying beside Grandmother. I find myself thinking; if she took them to her heart, is it not possible they have taken her to theirs? Why, they might even have come to call for her, knowing her to be their own true angel on earth.

I pray I have some of my Grandmother’s knowledge way down inside me.

‘We all wish to be loved and remembered,’ she would say.

I pat the swell of my tummy and make a promise to you that I will tell you all about her for she was right; we all deserve a place in someone’s heart.