After my son’s death, I became angry. Very, very Angry. I would lash out at loved ones, in particular my husband, or at total strangers. I recall one evening after work, yelling vulgarities at Scott. He was trying to comfort me after a particularly hard day. He couldn’t understand why I was not coming out of my funk. After all, he continued, ‘he was trying his hardest to ease my comfort by doing the laundry and washing the dishes’. Not a good thing to say at that moment.
There were moments when I yelled at total strangers because I felt they were looking at me the wrong way. Or threw my fist up at a car I passed because it was driving too slow…yet they were driving the limit. I almost got into a fist fight with a small group of 18 maybe 19-year-old girls at our county fair. Under my breath, I had made a disparagingly remark at one of them. She made one back, and it was on from there. Thank God for my husband and best friend, or else they would have had to bail me out of jail, or worse. There were 4 of them and only one me. I had no fear only anger and fury. Here I was, a fifty some year old woman, having words with a kid because she cut in line. Another person standing in line tried to interfere by telling me that I was a fifty year old woman and to try acting like one. He wasn’t immune to my tongue lashing, either. You would think that the sight of a 7 foot, 300 pound Samoan would snap me back into reality, right? I didn’t care. My defense to him was to yell at the top of my lungs in a crowd of hundreds, “MY SON IS DEAD, YOU A** H***! MY SON IS DEAD!!!!”
Fortunately, or unfortunately, my beautiful daughter inherited my fiery personality. Several months earlier, we had purchased tickets to a concert. When the day of the concert came, I was desperately trying to put some normalcy back in to my children’s life. Unwilling, my daughter and I attended this concert along with another group of girls. Secretly, I went for my daughters sake…I think she went for mine. We both tried to enjoy ourselves, but inside we were both writhing in pain. Back in the car after the concert, I was desperately trying to get out of the horrendous traffic and get us back home. In the midst of this gridlock, as everyone was trying to squeeze their way out of the parking lot, a man stopped and stood in front of my car. He proceeded to stick his hand out towards me, as if he was a New York traffic cop, and then started to wave other cars out to get in front of me. My daughter, being of my genes, leaned over, and laid into the horn which led him to give us the middle finger salute. That action then caused the people in other cars to laugh. IT WAS ON! I was furiously taking off my seat belt in an attempt to pounce on the nearest car. Ugly, spit covered words were spewing out of my mouth! My daughter, in between screams of F’s and U’s, was hurriedly putting her hair up into a pony! We looked like mad women on a mission! I can still see the shocked faces of the passengers in the cars around us. I think they began to fear for their lives. Even though I can laugh about it now, I am embarrassed at our behavior now, but at the time, I didn’t care. We were both so angry and all we needed was an excuse to release this rage inside of us.
There are still moments when I can feel the fiery storm start to build up inside of me. If I let it be, it takes on a Tasmanian devil persona. It starts off slowly and picks up momentum if I don’t control it. As frightful as anger can be to ourselves, catching us off guard the majority of the time, it can also be a good teacher.
Anger has taught me patience and compassion. It has taught me to be more sympathetic towards others. I am quicker to forgive hastiness or an indiscretion. Anger has cultivated a sense of empathy and understanding inside of me. I am less apt to judge a strangers poor demeanor and have become more tolerant of boorish behavior. This isn’t because this type of behavior is now permissible to me or that I believe good, kind human being behavior is suddenly lost in our society. It is simply because I can not know what has transpired in this person’s life 24 hours ago. I may not know what innocence they have lost or the pain and desperation that is taking place in their heart. They may have a Tasmanian devil beginning to pick up speed inside of them. Just as the guy in the parking lot didn’t understand that I wasn’t merely trying to get out of a crowded lot but in reality, I was trying to escape the massive pain picking up speed in my heart.
There But by The Grace of God, Go I….