My friend felt it, yes, he actually could just kill his son right now. Throttle him for what he just did, hurting his sister like that. The rage of his father both fully within and outside himself, feeling it between his hands. My friend understood it finally, directly experienced it himself, on a Sunday overwhelmed and suffocating in it, his father’s rage and urge for violence in reaction to the feeling as the only way to tread his head above the waters of anger and confusion. That’s what it must have felt like. A fear and a lack of control. How could he protect and control everyone he loved when he was fighting that?
He saw the panic and fear in his son’s eyes. He stopped. He couldn’t. He walked out of the house, tears on his face. Yes, he saw himself in those eyes. No, he couldn’t do what his father would have done to him. Couldn’t.
Because not so long ago, my friend was a boy face down in the dirt, feeling as if the backside of his shell was split open. His father was standing many feet away from him, the twelve-foot long pole returned to attacking the tree for walnuts as if nothing had happened.
“I didn’t say it was time to stop.”
Face no longer down in the dirt, tears on his face, he went back to work, back from whatever innocent thing it had been that he was doing on his hands and knees, being a kid, looking at things on the ground.
He forgave his father and loved him fully until his death. Becuase his father wasn’t equipped to deal with the feelings, because his father’s father beat him even worse, because no one was able to process these things, not back then; because he wasn’t certain there was a set of directions or fool-proof actions in his current situation, either.
That act, of loving, seemed to me, at least, more profound and difficult than the alchemical way his understanding and empathy filtered the transmission of violence out of the past.