Diary of a Widower

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

The power of brotherly love

FRIDAY, March 26  – Tonight I retire to the john, intending to read the second section of the evening paper from back to front undisturbed, when suddenly I hear a loud scream and another one followed by an ominous thump and then silence.

As a rule I’m inclined to drop whatever I’m doing and head for the living room, to find out what the devil is going on. This time I decide to let things run their course.

A few minutes later I saunter into the living room, outwardly as if  totally at ease. Sander is sitting on the couch with his brother’s head in his lap. Eamonn is sobbing his heart out. Sander has his arm around his brother’s shoulders. As I come closer, Sander starts to cry softly. Quiet tears, as he goes on trying to comfort Eamonn. I kneel down and put my left arm on Sander’s leg and my right hand on Eamonn’s head.

‘I’m not going to ask you what just happened,’ I say.

Sander nods. Tears are trickling down his cheeks. Eamonn is still buried in the lap of his older brother who explains, in a smothered voice,  ‘I don’t know what came over him. He started to scream and suddenly he threw a shoe at my head.’

For a moment all three of us are silent. Eamonn still doesn’t look up. Usually he takes refuge in the arms of his father, but now he opts for the security which his brother offers.

‘All of a sudden I was very, very angry. I don’t know why.’

His voice is smothered.

Sander strokes his shoulder.

‘That’s all right, Eamonn. Things like this happen.’

Again, silence.

‘I’ll leave you two alone for a little while,’ I say.

Then I get up and leave the room. Upstairs I fold up the laundry. Downstairs everything is quiet, even serene. Two brothers – no problem. Things like this happen.

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