I wanted to write a post about having gratitude even in the midst of being a Sick Person, but then death smacked me upside the head a few days ago, and then social media flooded with stories of the woman attacked and sexually assaulted by the Stanford student (whose name I refuse to speak), and the lenient sentence he got, and …
I just can’t.
All I can do is cry.
I cry for the victim of that horrible crime, even as I applaud ‘Emily Doe’s’ courage in writing and reading her Victim Statement, and sharing it with the world. It is hard to read. (But I hope you do.)
It makes me cry more.
But it is also hopeful. That maybe what she went through will help be an end to our culture of rape. That this will end: our culture of ‘boys will be boys’ that vilifies the victim and keeps many from seeking help, that “bends over backwards to humanize rapists while demonizing their victims” (The Guardian), that makes boys who are raped feel they have to discount their experiences, that makes women fear for their lives. All the time. Everywhere. (We don’t go to the bathroom in herds for a potluck, like the joke suggests – we go in groups because there is safety in numbers.)
‘Emily Doe’ ends her 12-page statement by saying:
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you.
I cry for her, for the life that she was robbed of, for the fear she will hold in her bones for the rest of her days.
I cry for myself and all of the women I know – and there are many – who have been sexually assaulted, or made to feel that they were worthless because they are a woman. Or that they are only worthwhile as an object.
And I cry for the death of my beautiful, broken friend, Chelsea Pazera, who left us and her husband and two little boys and friends and family at only 29 years of age. (Please read this beautifully written obituary to learn more about her. I am honored to call the writer of this tribute my friend.)
I cry for the damage the world did to her that wounded her so deeply. I cry that she never found the strength to heal from it. I cry for the people who blame themselves for her death, even tho it was a stupid, stupid accident.
I cry because I won’t be able to attend her celebration of life, to share memories of her with others who love her. That I won’t be able to hug her oldest son’s neck, a boy who won’t remember me, but who featured in many long conversations I had with his mother.
I cry for the loss of her, but I speak her name on my blog so that she will live on. #GNUChelseaPazera
And I cry at this art and story created by Brian Andreas at Story People, sent to me by my dear friend Brandi a day or two after I learned the horrible news:
I am proud and thankful to have known you, Chelsea. Now you really are an angel, and you will always be part of my heart’s landscape.