Over the Fourth of July weekend I was gripped by the following news story that completely knocked me off my feet Sex Assault Suspect Found Dead.
Why is this story of rape different from any of the other innumerable rape cases? Isn’t this the story of just another scum bag doing things that he should never have committed? No, it’s not the same.
The reason is simple: the wife, the widow, of this man is my friend. Yes, she’s my FRIEND. And in the darkest depths of despair, at a time when she most needs a friend, I wonder if many of her “friends” will run for cover and distance themselves from her and her family. Why wouldn’t they, right? They can’t afford the popularity capital to be associated with such people. They can’t be friends lest they be judged. What will the neighbors say? What will people at church say? The little league? The soccer team?
They may not be able or willing to be friends with this girl but you know what? I am.
You see, I don’t make any attempt to keep up appearances and I’m not out to impress people. I guess you could say I don’t give a rat’s ass what people think of me. I’m a SAHD so what the hell do I care? That’s why I have the freedom to say: THIS GIRL IS MY FRIEND and if you don’t like it, don’t agree with my stance, you can simply pucker up and kiss my ass. Unfortunately, I was endowed with a loyalty gene that does not allow me to turn my back on a friend in need. So, instead of running from this burning building, I feel a duty to run right into it and offer whatever help I might be able to provide.
I’ve known this wonderfully genteel and kind girl since middle school and although we’ve since lost touch after college, I consider her my friend. In fact, there were a couple of occasions in which I actually met her husband, the man who was accused of these horrific crimes. I should also mention that I am friends with members of his immediate family, good people I’ve known for a majority of my life, people with whom I went to school and played Pop Warner football. People who pretty much look and act like you and me.
This story has made me acutely aware of the unyielding ripple effect of one’s actions, especially when those actions are criminal acts of violence.
I think about the victims of this man, the women who were violated and assaulted, their fragile faith in the goodness of human beings forever shredded. How do they go about repairing their lives? I, too, have a daughter and simply lack the capacity to even imagine such an ominous cloud descending upon any one’s baby girl. And then I think of the families that are directly impacted by this man’s actions. Yea, it’s easy to say that everyone associated with the guy is garbage but do they deserve to be impugned by the dark shadow that he ALONE cast? What about the kids? The kids! They have two kids! What do they do to carry on? To whom do they turn for consolation and healing? Who will help wake them from this never-ending nightmare? The door to their childhood has been prematurely slammed shut, never to be reopened.
And then I think of my friend. What did she do to deserve this unforgiving fate? In all the years I’ve known her, I never heard her say something rude about another person, never witnessed a mean or vicious act. If she has a negative side I never saw it. Indeed, I’ve never heard someone use a single disparaging adjective to describe this girl. By all accounts, she and her husband shared a happy, NORMAL life. They owned a successful business. She had a good job. What happened?
Obviously, this is a story that produces infinitely more questions than answers. Unfortunately, the only person who has the answers is no longer speaking, his silence secured for all of time.
I guess this is what I want to say to my friend: If you happen to read this, please get in touch with me when the time is right for you. Whatever my family and I can do to help, know that we will do so without hesitation. It is not our job to judge but rather to assist.