You proud young men, you kings of New England
We've all read the itemized accounts of Jerry Sandusky and how he raped those little boys. He didn't molest them, he didn't sexually exploit them... he raped them - in the most horrible, graphic and unconscionable ways.
Thank goodness, he's been convicted and faces life in prison for what he did. But that's not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about those boys: those brave, strong, proud young men. Those frightened little boys who grew into giants and came forward to put that bastard behind bars.
Going into detailed description, coming forward and reliving it for a court recorder to transcribe in indelible ink, being put under a microscope while the demon who put you there sits aside and calls you a liar; sounds like fun, eh?
Walking out of that courtroom to a fleet of photographers and reporters, going home and back into your daily life knowing that the entire nation knows every single word you spoke about the most horrible thing that ever happened to you; absolutely soul crushing.
Stepping up and doing it all anyway, despite all of the above reasons not to, simply because it is the right thing to do and the monster must be stopped; completely and totally epic.
As a mother, I always tell my kids that being brave isn't being without fear; it's being scared to death of something but doing what you have to do anyway. Being scared shitless is halfway to brave.
As a survivor of long-term sexual abuse, I can say with certainty that every time I discuss my past, it is a strange double-edged sword which both breaks off a tiny piece of me and at the same time makes me a little stronger.
So I can testify that those boys who grew into men and reached inside of themselves to rip out the glass shards Sandusky left in their hearts, in order that we all may see the damage he left in his perverted wake - they are absolute warriors, kings in my eyes.
I wish, down to my bones, that I could carry some of that weight for them. Few of us speak up because it is agonizing and embarrassing to slash those wounds open in a public light. It is a pain and burden so difficult that to do it anywhere other than privately, in the corners of one's mind, or in the confidence of a trusted loved one or a therapist-it's almost too much to bear. And those men shouldn't have to bear that weight alone.
I know that we can't change the legal system to prosecute someone without hearing the testimony of their accuser. I wouldn't ever suggest or want that. But as a society, we have to start bearing some of the weight for those who show us their broken, wounded places for the purpose of stopping their assaulter and protecting the rest of us from it going unchecked.
How exactly do we do that? I'm not entirely sure I have the answer. But if I was given the chance, I would look every one of those men in the eye with a hard, level stare and tell them I am humbled by their bravery. I am full of rage at what their bodies and souls were subjected to at the hands of that man. And I am willing to carry any part of that burden which they picked up and shouldered with the hurt they had to experience all over again just to protect my children from ever coming in contact with him.
I support them, I respect them, and I will carry them anyway I can. We all must.