Tears are words the heart can’t express
A woman came into the gallery last week for the first time. She was on a mission to find a special work of art. Her husband was out of town but she said she’d like to return with him in a few days. True to her word, she and her husband stopped by a couple of days later. They both found several things they liked but just couldn’t agree on that one perfect piece. However, they did purchase one of my books.
A few days later, they were back again and as they came through the door, the husband announced that he had just finished reading my book. He commented about the vintage photos and the letters that are the heart of the story. He even mentioned his birthday is the day after mine. They started to look around but I could tell he still had something to say. Eventually, he mentioned that his late brother and I were in college during the same years. I studied at Belmont University while his brother was down the street attending Lipscomb University. And then, in a soft voice, he confided that his brother had also been molested.
It wasn’t the time or place to ask questions. He said what he came to say and then thanked me for writing my book. He is just one of many that have reached out to me since the book’s release.
If you happen to stop along side me in traffic and look over and see tears streaming down my face, please know that I am okay. Driving is often the one chance I am alone with my thoughts and I find myself thinking about the things people have shared with me – and my heart breaks.
Friends have told me their personal experiences – things I never knew or suspected. Like me, they have been good at keeping the past hidden. One of my childhood friends sent me the most heartfelt message after reading my book. She said she always saw me as the child with the smile and had never realized until now, what that smile had been hiding. She also shared that one of her children had been through something similar. I told her that I felt no child or parent should ever have to deal with this.
Friends and strangers have told me of their pain, or that of their child, their spouse, or their friend. It may have been a one-time encounter, or something that went on for much longer. The violator has often been a family member or someone known and trusted. There were even a few, like me, with multiple abusers over multiple years. In my case, it reached a point that I simply came to expect it. Regardless of the number of times or the number of perpetrators – one time is one time too many. Somehow, we need to find a way to protect the innocent.
So, I will listen and I will be strong for you but that doesn’t mean there might not be a time when tears are the only words I can say.
“Tears are words the heart can’t express.” –Gerard Way
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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