Beyond bitterness and despair there was something poignant, something he found harder to admit than the facts about his father’s cruelty, the thing he had not been able to say to Johnny: that his father had wanted, through the brief interludes of his depression, to love him, and that he had wanted to be able to love his father, although he never would.
I have had the most dreadful flu for the past few days, the most horrible parts of which I will refrain from recording here, but the most lovely part has been lying in bed with St. Aubyn’s novels. When I’m able to lift my head, which has become increasingly more frequent, I delve deeper into Patrick’s story. He has become almost real to me, not only from my total immersion, but from Edward St. Aubyn’s writing. I can see that anything I pick up after these spectacular novels will cast a dim shadow against the light of his pen.
In Some Hope, Patrick comes to realize what everyone with a great wound must accept to recover: without forgiveness there is no healing.
‘If he’d changed the course he wouldn’t need forgiving,’ said Anne. ‘That’s the whole deal with forgiving. Anyhow, I don’t say you’re wrong not to forgive him, but you can’t stay stuck with this hatred.’‘There’s no point in staying stuck,’ Patrick agreed. ‘But there’s even less point in pretending to be free. I feel on the verge of a great transformation, which may be as simple as becoming interested in other things.’‘What?’ said Anne. ‘No more father-bashing? No more drugs? No more snobbery?’‘Steady on,’ gasped Patrick. ‘Mind you, this evening I had a brief hallucination that the world was real…’
These are the first steps he takes toward his healing: recognition that his father was an “intensely unhappy” man with deep wounds of his own; recognition that living a life which only dwells on one’s wounds is not only unprofitable, it is harmful; and recognition that there is a world of good beckoning to him beyond his pain.
And so Patrick has left behind his coke, his heroine, his dependence on altering substances because as he has learned, “You can only give things up once they start to let you down.”