Those are the words of Hans, the illegitimate son of Dave, the protagonist of The Trion Syndrome. Hans is counseling his father to seek forgiveness for what he has done—inadvertently killing a child in combat. But Dave is guilty of despair. He believes that what he has done is unforgivable. He despairs of forgiveness.
I suspect that despair is part and parcel of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. Our memories are too ghastly to face. If we don’t face them, we’ll never find even an imperfect peace. We can’t do what we must do. Despair.
I believe that love can conquer despair. If someone loves me, then there is good in me and I can hope. In Trion, it is Hans’ love for his father that helps Dave find his way home from despair.
I wasn’t that lucky. It was up to me. No one was there to help. When I returned to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon, my wife refused to come to my aid. She and our children stayed at her father’s house in another state until I could get our house back from the people we’d leased it to for the duration of our tour in Vietnam. For two months, I was left to cope on my own.
That led to another discovery. Determination can lead the way home from despair. Or maybe the correct name is pride or stubbornness. I’d learned at age six to fend for myself because my alcoholic mother and jailed father weren’t going to take care of me. I developed a self-reliance that has stuck with me throughout my life. I wasn’t going to let hideous memories destroy me.
The character of Dave in Trion and I share that sense of depending only on one’s self. My sense is that if Hans hadn’t come along, Dave would ultimately have uprighted himself. But Hans did appear. Dave was luckier than me.