Diary of a Widower

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

Compassion, despite the hate

FRIDAY, June 4 – I was furious, but I didn’t let on. When Sander called to tell me how his whole morning was screwed up, I served as a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

Things went wrong almost from the start: he couldn’t concentrate and his head was full of images of the accident.

His teacher took him aside and it was clear that his frustration had to find an outlet. ‘I want to smash something to pieces,’ Sander said, and she gave him a canvas to give free rein to his anger, and work off his frustration.

That didn’t really help, Sander said, so she gave him a knife and told him to use it on the canvas. At that point, I asked, ‘And what did you do?’

‘I pretended that the canvas was R,’ he said, ‘and I began stabbing him.’

I felt the floor give way under my feet, but I didn’t let on. Mentally I cursed the teacher, who undoubtedly meant well but should never have allowed something like that to happen. It’s contrary to everything Jennifer and I have tried to teach our boys.

Violence is never the solution, no matter how great the hate and loathing.

Violence doesn’t solve the problem and imagining that you’re plunging a knife into the body of the man responsible for your mother’s death is totally unacceptable.  I understand his feelings of unspeakable hatred, but I know that the only thing you can do with hate is to transform it into anger.

From hate to anger, and from anger to acceptance.

It is quite something else to imagine R sitting in front of you, while you call him all sorts of horrible names. That can actually bring a kind of relief. Imagining what it would be like to use violence against him won’t get you anywhere. I’ll have to talk to Sander about this. Both boys know that Mom preached compassion. Even for the man who killed her.

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