Friday, March 2, 2018

What I Wish I Had Said

(I suspect no one will read this post.  But I'll know it's here.)

Over the years I have from time to time idly wondered whether I should shutter this blog for good.  I haven't written in so long, and while I loved blogging and this community, it truly feels like its time is past.  Then I get an email out of the blue from another woman who was affected by this man - a woman who found me via this blog - and I know I can't close it down.  We are a sisterhood, and leaving space for us to find one another is the least I can do.  

I received one such email in January and it was a gut-punch.  It took me several days to understand why it was hitting me so hard, but I got there eventually.  The one piece of this experience that is unresolved for me is my guilt at having not reported Gerald Klever when I could have - and wanted to.  Each email I receive forces me to face how many other women were victimized over the years because I said nothing.

So in January I mourned again, and accepted again that I have not been able to forgive myself.  I bitched a little at the Universe for bringing this up for me - again.  And I carried on.

And this week I learned what the Universe was up to.  The January email was a reminder to pay attention.  To be present and conscious and ready.  Because this week, while at a play in Philadelphia, I gradually became aware that the man sitting opposite me in the theater was Gerald Klever.

(I had seen him in court in 2008, of course.  But not face to face.  And not unexpectedly.  And prior to that, not since roughly 1983.)

If I hadn't been looking at his mug shot a month ago, I might have missed it.  As it was, I was only 90% sure that it was him.  It felt like such an invasion, that he would be in the same space as me and not be aware, and I had to know for sure.  So I followed him out into the lobby.

- Excuse me.  I think we know each other.  Are you Gerry Klever?


 -I'm Ruth Fischer.  (No sign of recognition.)  From Swarthmore.

And his face fell.  And he said --

- I'm sorry.

And I turned and walked away.

And what I wish I had said is, your apology is not accepted.  Your apology will never be accepted.  I'm standing on my two damn feet and I will never accept your apology for what you did to me, for what you did to my classmates, to your family, to countless, countless other girls.  For what you did to the women who email me, decades later, to share their stories -- women I have never met and will never meet who are still processing their pain -- for all of them, on their behalf, I do not accept your apology.

In the names of all of the women, men, girls and boys of #metoo: your apology is not accepted.