This is a deeply personal book written by a man who lost the love of his life in a terrorist attack in Paris in 2015.
When I saw the book for the first time I knew I had heard the words before. You will not have my hate. These words in itself are quite innocuous when said out of context but where I had heard them gave them unprecedented power. I had read these words in a Facebook post (which had gone viral at the time).
“On Friday evening you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God for whom you kill blindly made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife is a wound in his heart. So no, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you. You want it, but to respond to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You would like me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, for me to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You have lost. I saw her this morning. At last, after nights and days of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love with her more than 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated with grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will be with us every day and we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have. Us two, my son and I, we will be stronger than every army in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back to [my son] who has just woken from his sleep. He is only just 17 months old, he is going to eat his snack just like every other day, then we are going to play like every other day and all his life this little boy will be happy and free. Because you will never have his hatred either.”
Powerful, powerful words. You have to have an enormous capacity for forgiveness and be incredibly brave if you truly mean these words. And that is why I think the author chose to write this book. These words weren’t the norm but the exception even for him. A moment of clarity between long periods of anger, despair and sadness. A glimpse of bravery amidst fear of the future. Not only before these words were said but also after. Losing someone can be a harrowing experience. I have lost all my grandparents but I wasn’t particularly close to any of them so most of my grief was from transference, it wasn’t my own. Despite writing about loss in a lot of my books, the closest I have come to the feeling was when I lost my dog, Shelly, who had been with us for thirteen years and left us with a gnawing absence. So when a lot of my readers ask me where I channel the grief from, strange as it may sound it’s from there. Or in some extreme cases, I imagine what life would be like if lose someone I really love. And even those imagined scenarios leave me heartbroken for days.
Coming back to the book, you should read it. It’s a half an hour read and will leave in tears.
And to the writer of the book and his son – May you receive all the love in the world.
P.S. – Typed on my phone. Excuse the brevity and the errors.