20 years ago, Jeremy Broun was raped. I was about to write brutally raped, but of course it was brutal. All rape is brutal. I do not want to clarify it, as if others are not. She was raped and beaten for 5 hours by a man let out of prison, commuted on a life sentence, just 2 months before. This is a major part of the story, as it changed so many lives. He went on to murder many times before being caught again. Jeremy Broun was the only woman to survive. If you want to learn more about these crimes, please google Jeremy Broun, or her daughter, Samantha Broun (as I do not want to type the man’s name). Today, I just want to focus on this lovely woman (Yes, Jeremy is her name – her parents were expecting a boy).
Jeremy was a singer. She sang publicly , profressionally (even on Broadway), among friends, at home. Sometimes just walking down the street. As she explained it, “she was given a voice.” 20 years after being tortured, beaten, bound, raped and terrorized, her daughter, traumatized by the event in her own way – (it was her mother – he did this to her mother) – decided to interview her and the people involved. Her daughter, Samantha, is an accomplished reporter. I cried during most of the interview, but the thing that hit me the hardest was this. She asked her mother what the scars were…. what were her scars… Her mother paused to catch herself. I imagined her going through the list, putting them in some order, but she said this. “Well, I can’t sing.” “I can’t sing.” My heart and my eyes wept. “I was a bird, and now I can’t sing.”
She explained that if she tried to sing, she would only cry. I cried for her. But then I knew, it was not my tears she needed, she needed my voice. I have been painting birds for the past year. I have been writing their songs. Everyone has a voice, but not everyone is able to sing. For some reason, there are people who will try to take away that voice. We must do all that we can to return it, or give them our own.
So I ask you, if you can sing, and I mean just sing, not if you’re a Broadway singer, not if you’re paid to go on the stage… no, if you can sing, if you have the courage to raise your voice, if you can sing and be joyful and thoughtful… if you can sing with empathy, and grace, and just pure love for the heart songs that come from within… if you can raise that voice – do it! Sing! Sing for yourself. Sing for your family. Your friends. Strangers. People in the news. People in other countries. Sing for people who don’t look like you. Sing for the lonely. Sing for the hurt. Sing for crowds. Sing for mothers. And children. Sing for the single. Sing.
And if you can’t sing. If someone has taken your voice, know that you are not alone. Grab the hand of someone near you. And listen. Sway. Feel the music. Join in if you can. It is safe in the song.
Harper Lee tells us, “‘Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird… Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
I sing for Jeremy. I sing for you. I sing with you. I will sing my heart out for us!
I leave you with the words and melody of Karen Carpenter,
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.
Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.