She was tall, slender, an attractive blond, her hair shoulder length, well dressed.
Then she happened to turn around.
The left side of her face was brutally blue, and black, the purplish swellings no doubt once having closed off any ability to see diminishing, but still, a once pretty face didn’t, perhaps couldn’t, smile, it likely all hurt so much.
As much from the memory as the injury.
The bleeding beneath the thin eyelid skin was the result of blunt trauma. A conclusion drawn from the fact that she was standing in line – yes, there was a line, it was busy – of people, mostly women, filing protection orders.
The hallway was long too, people waiting their turn outside courtrooms, the chairs – all occupied, the rest standing – lining the bare walls, and at the very end, a dead end, the sign read “Domestic Violence”.
I glanced at her again as she huddled over, shoulders drawn in close, head bowed, her hair cascading over – and hiding – her face as she waited, her paperwork submitted.
Perhaps I should say something, express sympathy somehow. Maybe she would want to talk.
But then her name was called, and she was gone.
This past March 2, Lauren Justice – an interesting name given her opinion piece in “The New York Times”, the culmination of “ten months in a class for men who hit women,” – shared the sad, horrific, admissions of monsters for certainly they were that the night it all went down, of those whose inexplicable anger exploded and there were victims, plural, because children in some cases were watching too.
Their near-universal message, these abusive men?
They wanted to warn younger men before it was too late – too late to be other than a disappointment to children who look naturally to a dad for an example; too late to treat with honor and devotion and respect their wife; too late to avoid the disastrous, even fatal, consequences as of a light from a lighthouse unseen in a storm of rage and anger.
The Cape Disappointment lighthouse marks the entrance to the Columbia River “reputed to be one of the most dangerous in the world,” the treacherous coastline near the Columbia Bar rightly earning the title “the graveyard of the Pacific” given the more than 2000 vessels and 700 lives lost there.
But every year, thanks to the Cape Disappointment lighthouse – it’s light seen 17 miles out to sea – it is estimated that as many as 300-400 ships are saved from impending disaster, their captains having been warned in time of how best to navigate those wild, turbulent waters to find shelter.
That’s the message of the men to younger men who Justice observed who’ve disappointed their families, destroyed their most important relationships, and ended up where they are, on the rocks of abysmal failure.
And it’s the message of all of us, whatever the issue, to be the light in that lighthouse.