DISCLAIMER: I’m not one to make light of a serious and tragic situation, nor am I one that takes pleasure in attacking someone when they’re down, but writing my thoughts and feelings are one of the ways I cope with a loss. The opinions that follow are merely the expressionistic views of a former fan, and please note I’m fully supportive of all victims of rape, assault and molestation.
Recently, I’ve come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Apparently my friend had a sickness long before I was made aware, long before I started out as a child, but other people knew about it and were more or less paid to keep it a secret, or were just too terrified to let anyone know. Reputations, careers and legacies were on the line! Surely, something so terminal couldn’t be released to the public or else we’d definitely be living in a different world. Perhaps a world where we would never have heard of something called “Leonard Part 6.” But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sometime in late 2014, I learned my friend may or may not be sick, and he kept his sickness from me until more and more people came to attest that he was, in fact, atrociously ill. At this point, I didn’t know the statements were facts, nor did I believe they were lies. This was my friend that we’re talking about here. If we’re friends, I’m going to stand in your corner until you give me reason not to. I may give you the occasional side eye when you say or do something questionable or foolish, but for the most part, I got your back.
Not only would I have your back, but if I really admired you, I’d defend you. I’m not so sure I did as much defending for my friend in this instance as I couldn’t prove or disprove anything, but I most definitely was in denial, one of the first stages of grief. But my friend had not yet passed away, it was really the first nail in his coffin. Perhaps the first nail out of 20-40, but I lost count. He probably did too.
Months pass, scandals swirls, and dirt is steadily trying to be swept under rugs to be ignored. Meanwhile, you show off your luxurious home full of shiny noteworthy achievements. But do you know what you have when you keep sweeping dirt under rugs? Dirty and lumpy rugs. Too much dirt and too many lumps that it’s practically impossible to ignore. While everything else is smooth and glowing around you in your glorious house, one can’t help to wonder why you have a dirty lumpy rug in the middle of it. Not only is it disgusting, but it’s also a safety hazard. Someone can trip, fall and at such an old age, recovery is unlikely nigh impossible.
Between being sick and having dirty rugs, tragedy was bound to strike. And when it did, it struck with vengeance. Remember the 20-40 nails I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago? 10 years prior, someone had a fat, wooden stake which was sealed away that was recently signed, unsealed and delivered straight to my friend’s heart.
As a friend, I had been going through the grief stages, like I mentioned before. I was in denial that my friend was sick in the first place, surely this can’t be true. As close friends know, I rarely get angry… so the anger phase was mostly nonexistent. So I skipped to bargaining, hoping that maybe not everyone is telling the truth. Maybe only one or two people actually knew he was sick, and the rest are jumping on the bandwagon and telling lies. Why are they coming out to slander about my friend now?! Why not wait until he dies? I know that sounds morbid, but this is my friend’s legacy we’re talking about!
I eventually slipped into depression as I realized one of my long time idols, a childhood hero has fallen below, down to a depth beyond redemption. My shining memories of him forever tarnished.
I recall a scene from a well-loved popular family sitcom, where America’s favorite dad (at the time) would find a freshly baked and frosted cake. He’d carve a heaping spoonful out of the middle of it and then stuff the missing part of the cake with a napkin, then cover it with frosting. I’m finding that scene to be too eerily symbolistic to my friend’s real life as I come to acceptance. Cold, hard acceptance. The kind that can acknowledge the influence he’s had over me and millions of others, but also will point to the huge asterisk and footnotes he’d been trying to white out.
While I “mourn” the loss of my so-called “friend,” I truly sympathize with victims. Not just his victims, but ALL of them. Especially and most specifically one of my closest friends who had her own encounter with another sick, deplorable man. Her story is not mine to tell, but I think of her, and I stand with her and people like her with similar stories. I apologize to those who stood up before and weren’t heard or believed. It’s a shame that it took this long. It’s a shame it took so many people. And it’s a shame that greatest storyteller was telling the worst lie, and I, like many if not most, fell for it.
Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. -Psalm 146:3