For Antoine Leiris, the unimaginable has happened.
He has lost his wife, the love of his life, the mother of his 17-month-old son.
Hélène Muyal-Leiris was at the Eagles of Death Metal gig at Paris’ Bataclan theatre on Friday night.
She was one of more than 130 people to lose their lives in a series of terrorist attacks across the city that night.
One would expect the grief-stricken Leiris to be full of hate and vengeance, but in an open letter on Facebook to the terrorists who stole his wife and his young son’s mother, the newly widowed man has vowed to do the opposite and to ensure his little boy lives happy and free.
“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t 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 which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free.
Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
How someone can articulate so beautifully in such a tragic time is beyond us.
For more inspiring words coming out of the devastation of the Paris attacks, watch this little boy and his father discuss the attacks.