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Sunday, March 20, 2022


… a heart-searing telling of the intensity of grief, darkness and loss, but ultimately also, it is a celebration of her son’s life.  (Review by Tina le Roux)

Water Boy is both a compelling and simultaneously agonising true life story. Written by Durban-based journalist Glynis Horning, it deals with how she and her husband Chris woke one Sunday morning to the devastating discovery that their 25-year-old son Spencer had died in his bed. Earth shattering, ‘carpet pulled out from under your feet’, free-falling and gut-wrenching stuff. I shed many tears whilst reading her truth.

Horning’s story chronicles a parent’s worst nightmare. Establishing that Spencer’s death was suicide, she embarks on a journey of anguished self-recrimination. Should she not have seen the signs? Could she somehow have prevented it? And as she struggles with his decision to end his life, she also shows us what the depths of depression entail. We feel Horning’s pain, and learn to understand and feel Spencer’s pain, at a visceral skin crawling level.

Surrounded by loving family and friends, Horning writes with such honesty and openness about suicide and its nuclear fallout. She uses this platform to explore the stigmas around mental health. Hers is a heart-searing telling of the intensity of grief, darkness and loss, but ultimately also, it is a celebration of her son’s life.

This book will touch anyone who has experienced a mental health journey (directly or indirectly) or a searing loss. In fact, trauma in all its angry hidden places. Horning’s wisdom and insight are extraordinary. It has been written in the hope that by sharing her family’s story, she might be able to help or even prevent, another’s suffering. And by doing so, she sheds light into the depths of darkness. Light that allows us to talk more openly in our own lives about depression, suicide, and trauma.

I want to thank Horning for her honesty. Water Boy speaks so much about the power of resilience when our stories are heard. And ultimately about the strength of a fierce mother. In the telling of her trauma, and through my tears of empathy, I tried to process words on a page, realizing (with gulping breaths) that this was not fiction… I scribbled this poem out in response. I hope that my words reach her and that she finds comfort in knowing that both her and Spencer’s story have been heard. My life has been irrevocably changed. The power of the pen. Transformative.


darkness is always balanced by light


to overcome trauma

breathes into seafoam


empathy is an open river

truth runs down my face

i stepped into

the rivers of tears


that water boy’s life matters

especially now


in depths of despair

through darkness

a light

a mother’s light


that allows a space

for all to wander

and transform

pain into meaning


fear into fire

uncertainty into truth

tears into power


relief and awe

slip their fingers around my shoulders

yes, a space to cry it out

a raw longing

and how badly i

no, we

needed this


to make meaning

to process

to speak into darkness

to be heard

is to live a thousand times

more brightly

because I hear you

i see you

this journey matters

for all of us


Water Boy is published by Bookstorm EAN:9781928257929 -  Tina le Roux