Sugar Ray Leonard Survives

I was watching the video of his presentation at Penn State this past week.  It makes you think of alot of different things.  I thought of the timing of the abuse.  It happened around the time that he was training for the Olympics.  He was a powerful man, a powerful boxer.  As any former Olympian could tell you, training for and getting through the rigors of the trials requires a supreme mental and physical effort.  It requires toughness.  You have to overcome the best amateur athletes in your sport.  Sugar Ray did just that.  He got his gold medal.

In that journey he lost something much more precious than medals and accolades.  He was betrayed by those he trusted the most.  There are few trusts more sacred than that of a student and mentor.  It is especially sacred to the student because the student is exposing all the vulnerabilities to this one person.  For men, there are few opportunities to exhibit our vulnerable side to another man.  Sports is one such ‘socially accepted’ avenue. 

When you take away that sacred avenue it permanently alters our ability to function in the world.  We can’t get that back.  We can build something new, but it will never be what it was.

Ray Leonard, the fighter, was abused sexually.  Not Ray Leonard, the child.  This is the crucial part for society to absorb.  Male abuse has nothing to do with our ability to defend ourselves.  It has to do with trust because when you trust someone you will do anything for them. 

Ray Leonard, the fighter, had a child at home to protect.  He was struggling to pay the bills.  To make ends meet.  To “pay for diapers” as he put it.  He was vulnerable.

This notion that only children and women can be victims of sexual abuse is a lie.  It is perpetrated by a society that fears the vulnerability in men.  Finding that fragile nature within us is the only way to heal our wounds.  It allows us to be truly powerful. 

That Sugar Ray Leonard that took the stage is a strong man.  He told his truth.  Believe it.

Our Beautiful Chihuahua

I turned the key and pushed the door open.  It’s usually about this time I see the little squirrel run to the babygate, tail wagging vigorously.  She emitted a high pitched noise that sounds like car tires squealing on the street. It was one of my favorite sounds ever.

But today, there was no little squirrel, no squealing, no Ms. Moneypenny.  It reminded me of when my wife is away on business and I get home from work and the entire apartment is this dead space.  You never know how much life they give it until they are no longer there.

Money Penny

I’d sit down on the couch.  Moneypenny would run around and scramble up furniture.  Her body was so erect it was like she was on the summit of some mountain.  She was a tiny Chihuauhua, but she always managed to climb high enough to look you in your eyes.

Her favorite thing was to be rubbed on the belly.  Even when my hand got tired I continued rubbing because I knew that she had been waiting all day for this moment.  With every sweep of the hand her eyes would slowly close.

Each night Ophelia and I would settle into bed, and after a few minutes Moneypenny would    prance up and find a nook to tuck her little body.  It was usually behind my knee or against Ophelia’s belly.  A couple of times I almost rolled over her in the night, but she never moved.

I never had a dog that trusted me so much.  I’m not sure I ever trusted anyone so much as she trusted me and Ophelia.

For three nights we watched and waited.  Penny didn’t eat.  She didn’t drink.  So we handfed her, and used a syringe to make sure she drank.  She was too tired to walk to her favorite pillow.  So we picked up her weakened body and placed her nice and comfy in her favorite spot.

I watched as Ophelia fed Penny saliva out of her mouth, at times the only water Penny would take.  From her mommy.

Penny would sometimes lift her body into a sitting position, fighting to get herself upright.  I imagined she must have trouble seeing with her weary eyes.  It was in those weary, sagging eyes that Ophelia knew that it wasn’t good.

We weren’t prepared to let her go.  We couldn’t afford the surgery needed to save her life, but the vet did it anyways because she ‘really liked that dog.’

Before the surgery, they brought Penny in to see us.  Her tail wagged vigorously, just like it always did.  If I had a tail, I would have wagged it too.

Her eyes were bright and clear, and she looked like she was going to make it through.  So I hugged and kissed her.  I swept my hand over her belly, and her eyes started to drift off.  We handed her back to the nurse.  She was so happy to see us.  I reached over one last time and kissed her on her little forehead.  Then she was gone.