But there are people who take salt with their coffee. They say it gives a tang, a savour, which is peculiar and fascinating. In the same way there are certain places, surrounded by a halo of romance, to which the inevitable disillusionment you experience on seeing them gives a singular spice. You had expected something wholly beautiful and you get an impression which is infinitely more complicated than any that beauty can give you. It is the weakness in the character of a great man which may make him less admirable but certainly more interesting. Nothing had prepared me for Honolulu…
[Robert's eulogy at his brother, Ebon C. Ingersoll's grave. Even the great orator Robert Ingersoll was choked up with tears at the memory of his beloved brother]The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.Dear Friends: I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me.The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west.He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point; but, being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust.Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock; but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning, of the grander day.He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form, and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts.He was a worshipper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: 'For Justice all place a temple, and all season, summer!' He believed that happiness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were every one to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers.Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, 'I am better now.' Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.And now, to you, who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.
The people who were behind my abuse were very clever. They had created something which would be so difficult to explain, so difficult to make sense of, that it would be easier to dismiss it all out of hand as the ramblings of an over-imaginative child.Many people don't want to believe that child abuse exists, or are only willing to believe that certain kinds of abuse go on. They don't want to consider that something so horrific, and yet so widespread, is taking place in their community, perhaps only a door away from them, a few steps from their lives - or even in their lives if they would only open their eyes.I know this, not just because of my own personal experience, but through my work supporting and listening to survivors and those still experiencing abuse.To ask people not only to believe in the abuse but also to take on board all the details of what I'm revealing is a big step, and it has taken me many years to make the decision to tell my story, but it has to be done. This type of abuse is ongoing, as is the culture of disbelief to make people dismiss anyone who talks about it. This needs to be challenged. The things I'm telling you in this book have been kept close to me all my life; I have always known that talking of them, telling my full story, would make some people incredulous - but it's true. It's all true.Whatever the set dressing, they were rapists and abusers - just plain and simple/ The trappings that surrounded the abuse was just a way of creating something that would allow them to do what they wanted to, but which would also allow for confusion on our parts, and devotion on the parts of the 'followers'. I think this is what many people find so hard when they are asked to believe in this sort of abuse. It all seems so fantastical, so it's easy to dismiss. I'm not asking you to believe in any of that. I'm not asking you to believe in Satan, I'm not even asking you to believe in God. I'm just asking you to accept that there are some people who will go to extraordinary lengths to cover up the facts that they are abusing children.
Over the years, one comes to measure a place, too, not just for the beauty it may give, the balminess of its breezes, the insouciance and relaxation it encourages, the sublime pleasures it offers, but for what it teaches. The way in which it alters our perception of the human. It is not so much that you want to return to indifferent or difficult places, but that you want to not forget.