Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

‘What would Mom have done?’

WEDNESDAY, December 9 – Sander called just as I was I was starting off on a long walk in the woods with Elsa. He had a crap day and, after checking with the counselor, he was given permission to go up to the supply room and smash something to pieces.  It didn’t really help.

He asked if he could go home. Of course. I asked a few questions by way of trying to figure out what had suddenly caused him to lose his cool.  Nothing in particular, it seemed. He was just plain sad.  And angry.  He’s furious with the police in general and the motorcycle cop, in particular.

As it happened, I’d just emailed the criminal lawyer that very morning, informing him that we want to arrange a meeting with the cop. Apparently, the time was ripe – not this month, but somewhere around the middle of January.  This meeting might help us to start to come to terms with Jennifer’s death.  And with Sander’s anger, and Eamonn’s aversion to the spot where the accident took place. He still refuses to go anywhere near it.

I have questions of my own, of course, and I wrestle with my own emotions.  I’m still not angry with him, personally.  I’m content to let the law take its course, provided the process is honest and transparent. I’m not entirely sure that it will be. Naturally I blame him for the accident.  It should never have happened.  But do I blame him personally?

It would probably be good for Sander to meet him as well, and for the same reasons.  For my part, he can really let loose on him as long as he uses the opportunity to vent his feelings. No verbal cruelty or violence… none of that.  I’ll prepare him and I’ll be right beside him. There is such a thing as respect for a fellow human being. You can be hard on the man without becoming mired in resentment.

Smashing things up wouldn’t bring me much satisfaction either.‘What would Mom have done?’ I asked Sander.  He didn’t know.  I answered for him:  ‘She would have given you a massage and helped you to relax.  Come over here and I’ll give it a try.’  We were in the living room: he was sitting on the floor and I was on the couch.  I pinched and pushed and kneaded, focusing on a vile area on his back, which we’ve christened the ‘root of all evil’.

Sander’s is on the left.  ‘Mom had one on the right, just under her shoulder blade,’ he informed me, between groans. I massaged him and listened while he talked.  There were ten minutes of total dedication, attention and physical contact that produced a great feeling for him and for me.

beatlesatshea‘Things are getting better,’ he said suddenly. ‘Very slowly. Little things, but I can tell.’

Good to hear.  Eamonn had a pretty good day, too.  I asked him if he’d left the classroom. He said no since it was Wednesday and only a half-day. Together we watched some old videos on YouTube:  The Beatles at Shea Stadium.  It was Mom’s favorite on-line clip:  her favorite band and her favorite baseball team, the Mets. Girls screaming and crying, while the Beatles tried to make music.

‘Do you think Mom would have been just as hysterical, if she’d been old enough to be there? I asked Eamonn.  She wouldn’t have cried, like some of the girls, he decided.  But she’d have shouted.  ‘Yeah, I’m pretty sure of that.’

We laughed at the whole idea.

Sander came downstairs after finishing his homework for French.

‘Can I see it?’

‘No, but I can tell you what it was.  It was just eight vocabulary words that we have to learn by heart.’

‘What are they?’

He began to recite them, but he forgot a couple.

‘Okay, go get your book and I’ll listen to you.’

‘You don’t have to.’

‘Yes, I do.’

He got angry, stamped out of the room and shouted:  ‘Now you sound just like Mom!’

The door slammed shut. I thanked him for the compliment, and smiled.  Not a bad day, all things considered.  Not a bad day at all.

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