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When I was 14, I took a job babysitting.

Three kids (10, 8 and 3) for a single mom with two waitressing jobs. She had an older son, 18, from a previous relationship, but though he was a good kid, he was NOT watching his three younger step-siblings, no way, no how. Still… she was living off tips.

I charged very, very little and thought older brother (we’ll call him Bond) was soooooooo cute. The summer I turned 15, Bond invited me to one of his parties. His mom was working a double shift, the younger kids (usually my “charges”) would be at dad’s house, and I felt so grown up and popular. These were “seniors” for frick’sake!! I told my mom I was going over there to babysit.

Two alcohol shots and one beer into the party, the room was spinning. I was not only a virgin, but an alcohol virgin. Many of Bond’s friends, however, had taken notice of me, despite the beautiful high school juniors and seniors in attendance. His best friend, we’ll call him Darcy, was especially attentive.

My dad was an FBI agent, and had taught me several things from very young, chief among them: 1) if anyone touches you, I will kill them; 2) do not put yourself into stupid situations. Here I was – drunk, 15, stupid, and in a situation where, should dad make good on lesson 1, someone may end up killed. I was scared. I wanted to go home, but could barely walk five steps without hitting a wall. I went to Bond, Darcy still draping his arm over me.

“I’m sick,” I told Bond. Bond was worried. He told Darcy to take me down the hall to his room and lock the door, so no one would bother me, and he’d take me home when I was feeling better. Darcy took me to Bond’s room, and locked the door. And made his moves.

I was soooooooooooooooooooo scared, I froze. Other than kiss and hold me, nothing had happened, yet… but he’d locked the door, and we were alone. What should I do? Nothing came to me except to play dead. Like you would with bears. Lay there, and be dead.

Darcy suddenly stopped kissing me. He called my name, several times. He lifted my arm up, and dropped it. (Dead weight)  Again. (Dead weight – was there an acting award in my future?)  I pretended to snore. In the back of my mind I was praying all the prayers and also thinking how Darcy would be dead by my dad’s hand come morning if he didn’t back the f*k off right now. I told myself all the things: If he dares try to rape me, I will scream, kill him, and then my dad would kill him again.

Darcy rolled onto his back and let out a huge, disappointed sigh. He got up, and went and unlocked the door. Bond must have been nearby, because I heard him tell someone “She’s out. Like a light.” The door closed. No one came in or bothered me again. When I woke up a few hours later, the room no longer spinning, I went into the house and found Bond, who drove me home.

While “anti-climactic” from today’s horrendous headlines, I share this story because I have thought about it so often and several times a year since then. Darcy’s parents (or someone!) had taught him to be a true human being. Is this where the term “gentleman” comes from? You DO NOT take advantage of passed out females. You DO NOT continue when there is no consent. You do not use your size, weight or power to take advantage of a clearly out-of-her-depth (read: scared, passed out) young woman. Perhaps he should never have even made moves, but he did stop when there was no consent. Immediately.

It would not be the last time I was stupid. I was so blessed to have gentleman humans with me on two other occasions in college when I was less than “smart” about how much I drank and where I was. Now, the mom of two amazing young adult males, I know I have taught them the same. So did their dad. So did their uncles.

While most men are amazing and would never engage in rape, assault or intimidation of females, the number of females raped, assaulted and intimated is HUGE. So this math says: REPEAT OFFENDERS.  Let’s teach better, empower, and not stay silent. Let’s stop the offenders BEFORE they repeat!  Or better, before they come to believe what they are about to do is okay.

I figure I was spared through the grace of God and some pretty awesome parenting of young men. And by “parenting,” I mean it takes a village. “Boys will be boys” has NOTHING to do with rape. “Locker Room” talk should not mean “you can do whatever you want.” We know this. There are no excuses. Period.

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Little MS CrankyThank you, all, for your beautiful comments.  I hope to blog again soon. My amazing sister has been helping me stay up to date (I am in the midst of funeral preparations).  It is she who is the blogger extraordinaire.

My ex-husband died tonight.

I’ve written that into scripts and scenes and backstories and 1.4 million entries of my journals.

But then it really happens.  And luckily, God wrote this script.  Because, over the 22 years I’ve known my ex, it hasn’t been easy.  It was often fun.  I laughed and cried and laughed some more.  I got cancer.  I attended a lot of Al-anon meetings.  I wished his death on at least one major occasion, and luckily God knew me better than that weakness of character and said No.

I loved this man.  Even throughout the hurtful times, I would see what drew me to him.  A heart that was bigger than the ocean, especially for the downtrodden.  A desire to always laugh and have fun and go out where the people were young and alive.   A deep desire to be better than the addiction that plagued him most of his life, starting when he was just a kid.  An unwavering love for our boys, that kept him alive this past 24 days when the doctors kept saying, “He is dying.  We don’t expect him to make it until morning, so come now.” We came now every day, just in case.

He waited for us to come today.  It had been a very rough night, and an even worse day.  Over the past 23 days, he had been so present for them.  Inspiration.  Jokes and laughs.  Fatherly talks from his ICU bed.  The forced abstinence from alcohol had turned him back into the Prince Charming he could often be.  He asked me to stay one night, alone, so he could tell me important things before he died.  He told our boys how much he loved them every day.

But today had been awful, we were told.  He had had many, many, many visitors, but tonight, we were the only three there.  We wanted to give his girlfriend (my dear friend) a break after the awful day.  And when she left, we prayed together over him, our boys and I.  And we talked to him and told him we loved him.

It was the first day where he couldn’t talk to the boys, because he could no longer talk.  His breathing was loud and labored.  Which is how we knew when he had passed.  “Mom, he’s not breathing!” my son suddenly said, panicked.  We called the nurse.  He had died peacefully and with his boys by his side, just as he had hoped.  He was much too young.

So today I thank God for writing this script.  My ex could not stop drinking, and so he was fated to this future much too early.  But God gave him these beautiful weeks, and gave our boys not only these amazing extra hours with their dad, but a true dedication to the father they loved and didn’t always get to see as much as they wanted to.  They went every day.  They spent hours, happy to be there.  I hope that being there when he died eventually helps make the hurt less raw than it is for us all right now.

And that was the biggest gift God gave to me.  Over these past 24 days, I let go of all anger.  Begrudgingly.  With many set-backs.  Slowly.  But completely.  I saw again the troubled but truly good soul who had swept me off my feet and gave me the two greatest gifts in the world.  I am so sad.  And not just for our boys — though most especially for our boys.  Sad at what might have been for this sweet man.  Sad that he hadn’t been able to kick the demons.  Sad that it took his final month to bring us all back together, so close.

End.  Fade Out.  Bravo to the greatest screenwriter of all.

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