*Dedicated to AMB East
Last month I had the honor to meet the author, Andrew Vachss. Mr. Vachss is an attorney who represents abused children. He is on the front line in the fight to protect children. For the last ten years I have immersed myself in his books. I have lost count of how many times I have read them. They have shaped part of my life.
He came to Phoenix to do a book signing for his new release and I decided to finally meet him. Why I waited so long, I don’t know. On my way to the signing I had no expectations, and little did I know what awaited me.
I located the bookstore and found myself a seat. Within a few minutes he arrived and immediately walked in front of the audience of 40 people and just started talking! No introduction–nothing! It was as if time slowed down for me. This man is one of my heroes, my mentors. I never listened so deeply. He has an incredible sense of humor. He talked fluently about the challenge of protecting children in this country. One thing he said stuck out: “No amount of conscious raising or education will help stop child abuse. Only a change in the laws can do that.” Subsequently, a few years ago he helped form the National Association to Protect Children, a lobbying organization much like the AARP and the NRA. Last year they were able to close the incest loopholes in the laws in both California and New York. Major victories. For Mr. Vachss, a campaign that began 18 years ago!
Then I asked him a question. I don’t remember my specific question, only that it had to do with my work with clients who were sexually abused as children and with cult ritual abuse survivors. There was a feeling in my voice that I have never heard. A feeling that seemed to come directly from my soul. He seemed to slow down from the pace of his talk and took a moment… and then responded the best he could. The caring feeling in his reply answered my question.
The talk ended and the book owner indicated that he would be signing books over at the table that I was leaning on. So I was first! I had two of his books with me and my book, The Woodstock Bridge, which I wanted to give him. Time seemed to move slower. He sat down and I extended my hand, very quietly thanked him, and gave him my book. He looked at the inscription and then up at me in what I could only describe as in a very personal way, and said he would read it when he got back to his glasses in the hotel room. Then he signed each of his books and reached out and shook my hand, looking directly in my eyes, his eye gleaming a knowing, identification with me. He held onto my hand for a long moment, keeping eye contact with me. I was more my “self” in that moment than I have ever been—my soul was in my eyes. I knew he was looking in the eyes of a warrior.
I went out and got in my car and opened the two books he signed. I read the inscriptions–my breath caught and tears started to stream down my face. In short, it was a recognition and acknowledgment of who I am–I couldn’t believe it. My question, the feeling in my voice, the look in my eyes, in some way revealed something to him.
What do you do, brothers and sisters, when your hero “sees” you?
In that moment, everything in my life made sense to me. The gratitude that flooded through me was indescribable.
I vowed again to do what is necessary to help “the children of the secret.”
It is good to have heroes, brothers and sisters. And it is my deep hope for you that someday they will “see” you too!
Thank you, Andrew–thank you–A Ho.